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May 17, 2012

No Budget, No Pay? How About "No Budget, No Job?"

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It has been 1114 days since Congress’ failure to pass a budget, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers says this time, if they can’t accomplish their most fundamental of obligations, it’s literally time to pay.

The Washington Times reports:

“A group of Democratic and Republican House members say if Congress can’t fulfill its basic duty of passing a budget, they should punish themselves in a way that really hurts: by denying themselves their paychecks.

Neither party’s leaders seem keen on the idea, but rank-and-file members said the time has come to find a way to force Congress to take action.

Congress is supposed to pass a budget each year that sets overall spending limits and then pass the dozen spending bills that actually fund basic government operations by Oct. 1, which is the start of the fiscal year. But Congress hasn’t passed a budget since 2009, and it regularly fails to pass at least some of the 12 annual spending bills.”

The bipartisan bill, called the “No Budget, No Pay Act,” is sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.).

Passing a budget is the most basic responsibility of any household or business. And it’s not just Congress that has been at fault; passing a budget is a shared responsibility with the administration.

As IPI resident scholar Dr. Merrill Matthews pointed out earlier this year:

“Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the House Budget Committee in February: ‘We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to that long-term [budget] problem. What we do know is we don’t like yours.’”

Matthews then writes:

“Current law requires the president to submit a budget, which is usually released on the first Monday in February. Then both houses of Congress develop an outline with spending levels and, when they agree, they work from that concurrent resolution. Thus there is a balance of budget power.”

The “No Budget, No Pay Act” supporters should be commended for their leadership on this issue, but it’s doubtful such a bill would make it far. However, if Congress and the administration still haven’t reached a solution by the fall, voters may take it upon themselves to personally suspend the pay of those responsible—by booting them out of office.

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