In addition to suspending the nation’s debt ceiling for three months, the measure also included a “no budget, no pay” provision that would put lawmakers' pay into escrow every day after April 15 that their respective chamber goes without passing a budget resolution. Lawmakers would receive their pay whenever they pass a budget or at the end of the congressional session in 2015, whichever comes first.
The bill’s passage allowed both sides to claim victory. Republicans hooted that they’d been able to push the Senate to commit to crafting a budget. Democrats said Republicans backtracked from their previous demand of tying debt-ceiling increases to dollar-for-dollar reductions in federal spending.
On Wednesday, Senate Democrats put their new willingness to craft a budget in a positive light. Senate Budget Committee chair Patty Murray (D) of Washington said the budget process could take some of the teeth out of two upcoming spending battles: the automatic spending cuts mandated by the "sequester" and the need to fund the federal government when a stopgap measure expires in March.
“The House Republicans can't have it both ways. If they want us – and we want to – to move a budget resolution through in regular process, then they can't have brinkmanship on every crisis that they manufacture for the next six months,” Senator Murray told reporters Wednesday. “So I hope that they stop doing this brinksmanship, bring our country back to a place where we can do the regular order as they have asked us to, move our budget resolutions through and find a resolution to reach a fair and balanced deal at the end of the day.”
Conservatives might not be ready to give up their perceived points of leverage yet.
“Under normal circumstances, this would not be a fight. You would just do a budget and be done with it. But we’re not under normal circumstances,” says Rep. Scott Garrett (R) of New Jersey, who wrote a 2012 federal budget proposal for the Republican Study Committee, Congress's most conservative caucus. On government funding and the sequester, he says, “we will have to let these things hit and deal with them one at a time.”