With the U.S. Senate closing in on four years without passing a budget resolution, Iowa Congressman Tom Latham joined with a majority of members in the U.S. House of Representatives to approve a bill that withholds the pay of members of Congress this year if they fail to do the most basic job of passing a budget.
"This is a commonsense bill that allows us to responsibly manage the nation's finances while forcing members of Congress to do what every responsible Iowa family, farmer and Main Street business does each year -- pass a budget -- or they won't get paid," said Latham. "Simply put to Congress -- no budget, no pay."
Latham has been a leading proponent in Congress of efforts to force Congress to pass a budget each year -- something that is already required by law but often ignored recently, because failing to follow the budget law doesn't carry with it any penalties on Congress.
Latham reintroduced legislation Wednesday he authored in the previous Congress, The Do Your Job Act, which would freeze all funds to Congressional offices every year Congress fails to adopt a budget resolution for the coming fiscal year by May 15.
"With our nation's debt now in excess of $16 trillion, it's absurd that Congress can continue to neglect its Constitutional obligation and operate without a budget," Latham said. "For Iowa families, a budget is a blueprint for living within a household's means. For almost four years now, the Senate has played by a different set of rules and failed to pass a budget, all while objective analyses have pointed to a pending fiscal crisis and the American people have expressed alarm at our bursting deficits.
"The Do Your Job Act is intended to do what it says: force members of Congress into doing their job to budget by suspending their pay and funds for their offices. No private-sector worker in Iowa or anywhere else could possibly still get paid if he or she ignored their job for years on end. Why should members of Congress be treated any differently?"
House leadership folded the basic concept of Latham's Do Your Job Act approach into the No Budget, No Pay Act, legislation approved Wednesday by a vote of 285-144. The No Budget, No Pay Act would block pay to the members of any chamber, the House or the Senate, that fails to adopt a budget resolution for fiscal year 2014 by April 15 this year.
"I am pleased that House leadership included the Do Your Job Act's commonsense approach in our policy agenda for this year, but this needs to be a permanent policy enforced every year," Latham continued. "It's not an unreasonable request to ask the Senate to pass a budget, but for as long as that chamber -- and as a result, Congress -- fails to get the job done, there should be stiff penalties in place. Our mounting debt won't wait for us to act, and we need to get in front of this generation-defining problem now."