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Candice M.
Republican MI 10

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  • No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013

    by Representative Candice S. Miller

    Posted on 2013-01-23

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    MILLER of Michigan. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    I rise today in strong support of H.R. 325, the No Budget, No Pay Act.

    The Budget Act of 1974 requires each House of Congress to pass a budget each year by April 15. This is important, of course, because the budget that we pass is our blueprint, literally, for how we're going to spend the hard-earned tax dollars that the American people send here to Washington to run our Nation.

    Today, we are in a situation where the United States Senate has not passed a budget in nearly 4 full years, leaving the American people with no idea of how the Senate intends to deal with the fiscal crisis that is facing our Federal Government. In the time since the Senate last passed a budget, the Federal Government has experienced deficits of over $1 trillion each and every year, and we have added more than $5 trillion to our national debt. Obviously, this is a very serious fiscal crisis, and the American people are demanding answers.

    This legislation will allow us room to begin working on a solution that will put our Nation on a much more sound financial footing. This bill will extend our Nation's borrowing authority for 90 days to give each House of Congress, the House and the Senate, the needed time to do what they are legally required to do, which is to pass a budget to show the American people how we intend to deal with the many challenges that we face. But while giving Congress time to do its work, it also has a very important caveat associated with it that says, if we don't do what we are required to do by law, that we will not be paid. Simply put: no budget, no pay.

    This idea actually came, Madam Speaker, from previous bipartisan efforts to bring fiscal responsibility to Washington. And now the President has indicated that if it reaches his desk, he will sign it, that he does not oppose it.

    As well, there have been very promising indications coming out of the United States Senate from many Democratic Members that they will also step up, after 4 long years of inaction, and put forward a budget.

    [[Page H244]] {time} 1210 I believe that this can be the impetus today for us to begin working together to make the difficult decisions to finally address our fiscal challenges. Today, we can send that very strong message to the American people with a bipartisan vote to show that we are willing to put our paychecks on the line to meet these challenges.

    Now, some are concerned about whether or not this legislation is constitutional because of the 27th Amendment's restriction that the pay of Members of Congress cannot be varied--that is really the operative phrase of that amendment, ``varied''--that it can neither be raised nor reduced until another election has taken place. This bill, Madam Speaker, was carefully crafted to comply with the requirements of the 27th Amendment.

    So this is how it will work: If either the House or the Senate does not pass a budget by April 15, the deadline, then beginning on April 16, the pay for Members of that Chamber will be placed into an escrow account and will only be paid when that Chamber--either the House or the Senate--has passed a budget or when we reach the end of the 113th Congress. The amount that Members are paid will not be reduced nor will it be raised, so we stay in strict compliance with the terms of the 27th Amendment.

    There is no requirement in the 27th Amendment which states that Members have to be paid weekly, biweekly, monthly, or bimonthly or what have you, only that the pay that they receive will not vary.

    Now, some have suggested that the escrow account into which the Member pay would be deposited should bear interest so that that could then, as well, be paid to the Members. This cannot happen because that would actually cause Member pay to increase, of course. It would then vary their pay, which would not be in compliance with the strict terms of the 27th Amendment.

    So I am extremely hopeful, Madam Speaker, that we will successfully conclude our work in a timely basis here in the House, and I hope that this additional provision, as well, encourages the Senate to also complete our important work and pass a budget.

    What we are suggesting certainly is not unreasonable. I'll tell you, I come from southeast Michigan, and one thing I can tell you that is true about the people that I am honored to serve is that they get up every single day, every morning and work hard all day, every day. They simply do not understand how Congress can fail to do our job for almost 4 years--no budget out of the Senate for almost 4 years--and yet suffer no consequences.

    The American people are demanding that their Members of Congress deal effectively with the challenges we face. Our problems are real, and it's time for real solutions or real consequences.

    The concept, again, very simple: no budget, no pay. When times are tight, you balance your checkbook. When you run out of money, you stop spending. When your credit card is maxed out, you cut it up or get a plan together to pay it off. And if you don't do your job, you don't get paid. These are the principles, Madam Speaker, that Americans live by, and we certainly should be no exception.

    So I would urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.

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