The Obama administration said Tuesday it “would not oppose” a short-term handling of the federal debt ceiling. That puts Senate Democrats in a tough spot: They’ve skipped a budget each of the past three years so as to shield vulnerable members from tough votes on spending priorities. Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York recently said Democrats were planning to draft a budget this year, but neither majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada nor Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D) of Washington has made a similar commitment.
While the White House called the GOP’s “no budget, no pay” requirement an “unnecessary complication,” its fate in the Senate is up to Senator Murray, Senator Reid said Tuesday.
For Democrats, the risk of going along with the GOP is that they'll be drawn into a fiscal battle that could trip up other items on their agenda, from immigration reform to changes to the nation’s gun laws.
“That’s the [Republicans'] delay strategy,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University. The Republicans "don’t have to make a controversial decision right now and they extend how long the budget fights go on. That’s the center of their strategy.... If [the two sides] had a big showdown, and they make some deal, the issue diminishes in importance.”