Mr. BROWN. Madam President, last week the House of Representatives passed a plan to prevent the risk of another credit rating downgrade. By ensuring that the United States will not default on its obligations, the House made the responsible decision to stop playing politics--at least for a while--with our Nation's creditworthiness and to prevent self-inflicted harm on our economy. Despite this effort, the House couldn't pass up the opportunity to try, while doing the right thing, to score at least one political point. We are now considering the measure they passed.
This legislation, the No Budget, No Pay Act, coming directly off a campaign document, insists that congressional pay be linked with the passage of a budget by April 15. I am fine with that, that we should do that and if we don't, we don't get paid. But let's not forget that the Senate passed something even stronger than a budget for the past 2 years; we passed the Budget Control Act, which reduced the deficit by $2 trillion. Despite this, House Republicans have no problem misleading the American people with their language, preventing Senators from being paid until we pass a budget.
I have no problem with no budget, no pay, but why stop there? What about no jobs bills, no pay? In 2011 the Senate passed my legislation, bipartisanly cosponsored with Senator Graham and a number of other Republican Senators, including Senator Burr, and a group of Democratic Senators, we passed my legislation to punish China when it cheats, when it manipulates its currency. The bill could create more than 2 million jobs, mostly in manufacturing, knowing what happened in places such as the Presiding Officer's State of Massachusetts and in my State of Ohio with lost manufacturing jobs.
Despite the clear evidence that leveling the playing field with stopping currency manipulation would create jobs, despite the clear evidence of an overwhelming vote in the Senate and, 2 years ago, an overwhelming vote in the House on the same issue, this legislation has languished in the House for the past 2 years.
But why stop at the budget? Why not a no farm bill, no pay bill? Congress is obligated to pass a farm bill every 5 years. The Senate passed our bipartisan farm bill, which, among other things, saves some $20 billion of direct savings by eliminating the longtime-discredited direct payment program. It would save $20 billion, but, again, the House refused to act.
What about my legislation linking the age at which Members of Congress can collect their pensions to the age at which working Americans are eligible for Social Security? Some people, especially in the House of Representatives, want to raise the retirement age for Social Security, yet for themselves--ourselves, if we retire earlier--collect pensions before that age. If people here are going to raise the eligibility age for Social Security, nobody here should be able to collect any retirement benefits until that same age.
Citizens in my home State of Ohio in places such as Middletown, where workers have watched paper factories get priced out of the market because of unfair competition with places such as China; in Cincinnati, where call center workers are watching their jobs get contracted to the Philippines; and in Worcester, where there are too many cases of shutdown plants, moving overseas, simply or mostly because of currency, not to mention tax breaks that encourage companies, that allow companies to deduct the cost of moving their plant overseas against their Federal tax, those are the kinds of things average Americans are waiting for the House of Representatives to act on, legislation that will make a real difference in their lives right now.
I am fine with the No Budget, No Pay Act. We should pass a budget. We should move forward on that. We need to raise the debt ceiling and stop playing politics with this, but let the House of Representatives get moving on the issues that affect everyday Americans. That is all about jobs. That is all about this economic recovery.