U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.-05) testified today before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee about the No Budget, No Pay Act, which he and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) introduced in Dec. 2011.
The bill (H.R. 3643) would prohibit members from receiving pay for each day past Sept. 30 that they fail to pass budget and spending bills; pay could not be recouped retroactively. It has 34 co-sponsors in the House, evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and has been endorsed by the Blue Dog Democrats and Citizens Against Government Waste.
During the hearing, "Raising the Bar for Congress: Reform Proposals for the 21st Century," Rep. Cooper joined Sen. Heller and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) on the first panel of witnesses. An excerpt of Rep. Cooper's testimony follows:
"Congress has missed so many budget and appropriations deadlines over the years that no one takes these deadlines seriously. For far too long, we have run government by continuing resolutions instead of annual appropriations. We often fund programs on a short-term basis, sometimes month-to-month or even week-to-week. Political standoffs have even led to complete government shutdowns. This is inexcusable. We no longer have "one nation, under God, indivisible,' but "one nation, yet again, interrupted' ...
"The idea of deadlines with consequences came from a constituent of mine in Nashville, Tennessee. He was fed up with Congress and asked me why congressmen were so shameless in being late. I didn't have a good answer, but I seconded his questions. Why must the public pay taxes on time when Congress is so slow and erratic in paying bills? When is Congress going to take responsibility for its own misbehavior?"
Rep. Cooper is a founding member of No Labels, a nonpartisan citizen organization proposing 12 reforms, including No Budget, No Pay, in its "Make Congress Work!" plan.