Only four times in the past 60 years has Congress has passed a budget and all annual spending bills on time. Congress has the lowest public approval rating in history.
It all comes down to a simple fact: Congress is not doing its job – and the most basic job Congress has is deciding how much money the government takes in and how much it spends.
If Congress can’t make spending and budget decisions on time, then members should not be paid.
No Budget, No Pay bills have already been introduced in the House (H.R. 3643) by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and in the Senate (S. 1981) by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), and both bills have numerous bipartisan co-sponsors.
Every government fiscal year begins Oct. 1. With this bill, if the congressional appropriations (spending) process is not completed by that date, congressional pay would cease as of Oct. 1. Congressional salaries would not be paid until appropriations are completed, and members would not receive their lost salaries retroactively.
This reform is the first solution in No Labels 12-point action plan to Make Congress Work! The plan features a dozen common sense proposals to fix the outdated rules, procedures and traditions that have turned Congress into a broken institution.
But it all begins with fixing the process for how we spend money, and this is why the No Budget, No Pay Act needs to pass.
Deciding how much money the government takes in and how much it spends is the most fundamental responsibility of Congress. To do this job responsibly, you need a budget. Only four times in the past 60 years has Congress passed a concurrent budget resolution and all of its appropriations bills on time.
When Congress can't even meet the simple deadlines it sets for itself, it destroys the American people's trust in the institution.
That is why I am asking you to attend the hearing on S. 1981, the No Budget, No Pay Act, in the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs. The hearing will be March 14.
According to the bills, if the congressional budget and appropriations process is not completed by the start of the government's fiscal year on Oct. 1, members of Congress will not be paid for any time that the federal government lacks an enforceable budget and appropriations bills.
I ask a constituent, and as a member of No Labels, a grassroots organization of nearly half a million Democrats, Republicans and Independents dedicated to making our government work again.
A budget forces you to set priorities, and to answer the two most fundamental questions of all:
What are our nation’s priorities? How much are we going to spend on those priorities?
No Budget, No Pay would ensure these questions are being asked and answered. It will help restore accountability in Congress and it will send a strong signal to your constituents that you're listening to our concerns about the dysfunction in Washington.
I strongly urge you to support this important bill along with its author, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) and six co-sponsors, Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and David Vitter (R-LA).