Republican leaders offer reprieve to US debt crisis

House Republican leaders have offered President Barack Obama a three-month reprieve to a looming, market-rattling debt crisis, backing off demands that any immediate extension of the government's borrowing authority be accompanied by stiff spending cuts.

The retreat Friday came with a caveat aimed at prodding Senate Democrats to pass a budget after almost four years of failing to do so: a threat to cut off the pay of lawmakers in either House or Senate if their chamber fails to pass a budget this year. House Republicans have passed budgets for two consecutive years.

The idea got a frosty reception from House Democrats but a more measured response from the White House and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Republicans hadn't settled on full details, but the measure would give the government about three more months of borrowing authority beyond a deadline expected to hit as early as mid-February, No. 2 House Republican Eric Cantor said Friday.

The legislation wouldn't require immediate spending cuts as earlier promised by Republican leaders like House Speaker John Boehner. Instead, it's aimed at forcing the Democratic-controlled Senate to join the House in debating the federal budget.

"We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government's spending problem," Boehner told Republican lawmakers at a retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia. "The principle is simple: ' budget, no pay.'"

Republican leaders have been grappling with how to gain leverage in their battles with Obama over the budget. Boehner successfully won about $2 trillion in spending cuts as a condition of increasing the government's borrowing cap in 2011.

Obama, however, was dealt a stronger hand by his re-election in November and successfully pressed through a 10-year, $600 billion increase on upper-bracket tax payers earlier this month.

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