Now Is The Time For ‘No Budget, No Pay’

The Intelligencer

“To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.”

— Thomas Jefferson

In a Nov. 15 interview with The Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, confirmed she would be the new chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee when the 113th Congress is gaveled into session in January.

Her primary role as the head of this committee is to work with her fellow senators in crafting and passing a budget proposal. However, in this very same interview, Sen. Murray admitted she could not commit to the Senate’s actually passing a budget.

Failure by the Senate to pass a budget next year would mark the fourth year in a row that it has disregarded one of the primary responsibilities of Congress laid out in Article I of the United States Constitution.

It has been said that a budget is a list of your priorities, that it represents what matters most to you.

House Republicans have done our job over the last two years and made our priorities clear, passing two budget resolutions that maintain pro-growth tax rates on middle-income families and small businesses, protecting important retirement programs for today’s seniors while strengthening them for future generations, and ultimately placing our nation on the path to a balanced budget.

The federal government has already gone well over 1,300 days without a budget thanks to Senate inaction, and it appears this unacceptable and fiscally irresponsible pattern on the part of the Senate will continue into the 113th Congress.

To provide some perspective on how long 1,300 days are, consider some of the incredible feats groups of focused, energetic Americans have accomplished in less time:

In 332 days, Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, and liberated Europe from Nazi oppression.

In 407 days, a peak force of 3,439 men built the Empire State Building, which would remain the world’s tallest building for 42 years.

In the 976 days of the War of 1812, American soldiers were able to convince the British that we weren’t kidding when we declared independence in 1776.

Each of these endeavors, some public, some private and some a combination of the two, were accomplished thanks to strong leadership — something lacking in the Senate today.

The frustration that the American people have developed with the Senate is centered around its seeming inability to work together to achieve common goal.

Adding to our collective frustration is the fact that the budget process has built into it a clear mechanism for cooperation and compromise: the conference committee.

A typical budget process requires the House and the Senate to each pass its own budget proposal. In a divided government like the one in which we find ourselves, there are often differences between the two proposals.

The next step should be the formation of a conference committee made up of members of both parties from both the House and Senate to come together and hammer out these differences. Once the conference committee has completed its work, the House and Senate vote on the compromise budget and send it to the president for his signature.

The time and place for compromise have been clearly laid out over the course of the last several decades. The House has done its job, but the Senate has not considered, let alone passed, a budget and joined us in a conference committee.

Given the failure of the Senate to follow this tradition, it is clear that another mechanism is needed to ensure that a federal budget is passed on time: “no budget, no pay.”

With this in mind, I am again calling on my colleagues to pass the No Budget, No Pay Act, an important bill that I co-sponsored earlier this year.

I have discussed this proposal at town hall meetings and community gatherings across the 8th District, and it has been consistently met with applause and demands for action.

The No Budget No Pay Act simply mandates that should Congress fail to pass a budget on time, the members will not be paid, and will not receive retroactive pay when they finally do get around to passing a budget.

A resident of Bucks County who doesn’t do his or her job will not receive a paycheck, and it is a given that you need a budget if you have a business or you’re trying to run a family. The American people should expect no less of their federal government.

Earlier this year, on the pages of this newspaper, it was predicted that “no budget, no pay” had “no chance,” and that after the election, the budget situation would be resolved.

Sen. Murray’s comments, even after national elections, clearly demonstrate that we need “no budget, no pay” now more than ever.

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