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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 807, Full Faith and Credit Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. COOPER. Mr. Speaker, I'm opposed to the rule, and I'm opposed to the Pay China First bill. It is my understanding that they've added something, I think it's called the Camp amendment, that would make sure that Members of Congress are not paid if the Nation, in fact, defaults. This borrows an idea that I introduced back in the summer of 2011, H.R. 2653. We had a number of bipartisan cosponsors.

I'm worried, though, that despite imitation being the sincerest form of flattery they've diluted this concept to make it unconstitutional. Due to the 27th Amendment, it is unconstitutional to adjust Member pay during a session. We had it drafted so that Members would be paid last, which would pretty much ensure that we would not be paid. Perhaps they've corrected the drafting on their side.

They've also done this to me once before this year. They took our no budget-no pay idea that the No Labels group had sponsored, which has now become law, but they took out the heart of it. Right now, we should be having a House-Senate conference since both Houses have finally passed legislation. The Senate being the laggard, now after 4 years, they've finally passed a budget, but now we're refusing to conference the budget.

I am a believer in pay-for-performance. The American taxpayers are not getting their money's worth from today's Congress. They should be getting their money's worth, and I think these concepts about penalizing Congress when we fail to do our job are very powerful concepts; but they should be given full strength, not diluted and unconstitutional treatment in a quicky amendment such as is being offered here. The core idea of pay-for-performance I hope that more of my colleagues will look at because Congress does many things right, and we should be rewarded for that. We fail in many ways, and we should be penalized for that.

Today, sadly, the only people in America who are not able to pay Congress by performance are the taxpayers. Those special interests are paying us by performance all the time whether in PAC contributions or in post-retirement job opportunities. That is one reason this Congress is not performing to full capability. It is one reason we are not living up to our potential. So, as we look at this concept, at this Camp amendment, please let's do it right. Please, let's make sure that Congress is not paid for failure.

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