The fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition in the U.S. House of Representatives has endorsed a bill by Blue Dog Rep. Jim Cooper, D- Tenn., that would require Congress to pass a budget before Members of Congress could get paid. The No Budget, No Pay Act, H.R. 3643, would require Congress to pass its budget and all appropriations bills by October 1st of every year, the start of the nation's fiscal year. If Congress fails to pass both a budget and all of its appropriations bills on time, then Members of Congress will not get paid until they do so. The law would also prohibit retroactive pay for missed paychecks.
The No Budget, No Pay Act would take effect February 1, 2013, thereby only applying to future Congresses and not violating the 27th Amendment. The bill currently has 30 cosponsors split almost evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has introduced similar legislation in the Senate, and the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill on March 14.
Congress has not adopted a budget for more than 1,000 days. Over the past 36 years, Congress has passed its appropriations bills on time only four times, and it has failed to pass its appropriations bills on time for the 15th straight year.
"Americans don't get paid if they don't do their jobs, so why should Congress? The Blue Dogs have endorsed my bipartisan bill because it's a step toward restoring Americans' faith in our government," said Cooper, who also serves as Vice Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Fiscal Responsibility.
"In the last six decades Congress has passed a budget a mere four times," said Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Fiscal Responsibility. "If this body can't find a way to do what we have been sent here to do by the American people, which is to cut spending and reduce our nation's outrageous $15 trillion deficit, then we don't deserve to get paid."
"This bill is about accountability, fiscal responsibility and commonsense. If Congress can't work together and do its job, then it shouldn't get paid," said Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications. "We can't keep operating on continuing resolutions and short-term fixes and we can't keep pointing fingers at the other side. The Blue Dogs stand ready and willing to work with both parties to get the job done in a fiscally responsible way and to hold Members of Congress accountable to their actions."
"Developing a budget that can pass the House, Senate, and be signed into law by the President is the most basic part of our job in Congress, and we shouldn't get paid if we don't do our job," said Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., Blue Dog Co-Chair for Policy. "The No Budget, No Pay Act will force Congress to make the tough choices necessary to build a bipartisan budget -- rather than revert to the blind partisanship that's failed to produce a budget for the American people year after year."
"Families and small businesses across the country operate on a budget, and it is time for Congress to start doing the same thing if we are serious about getting our fiscal house in order," said Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., Blue Dog Co-Chair for Administration. "The American people have elected us to do the job of governing this country, and that includes passing a full budget and appropriations bills on time. If we are not doing our jobs, we should not be rewarded with a paycheck. It's that simple."
"The Congress has failed its obligation to the American people by not passing a budget," said Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., Blue Dog Whip. "We need to follow the example of families across the nation who have to balance their checkbooks and pay their bills on time. To get on this path of fiscal responsibility, we must have a framework. This legislation will force members of Congress to do the right thing and pass the budget."