U.S. House approves ‘No Budget, No Pay’ bill
Congress won’t get paid unless it comes up with a budget resolution, according to a measure approved Wednesday by the U.S. House but which has yet to capture the enthusiasm of one Colorado senator.
The House voted 285-144 for the “No Budget, No Pay” act, with U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., voting in support of the measure, which would require both houses of Congress to approve resolutions for fiscal year 2014, which begins Oct. 1, by April 15 or see their paychecks placed in escrow until a deal is reached or the Congress adjourns.
“If you fail to do your job in the private sector, you don’t get paid,” Tipton said in a statement.
The bill was aimed at the Senate, which last passed a budget in April 2009.
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., disagreed with the premise of the measure and said Congress “has passed budgets, most recently in the form of the Budget Control Act, and I welcome news that the Senate Budget Committee is planning to start work on a new budget resolution.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would consider the bill and President Barack Obama would sign it, according to the White House.
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., doesn’t oppose the provision withholding pay until the budget is passed, a spokeswoman said, noting that defaulting on the debt would be catastrophic to the economy.
Short-term extensions of budget measures cause uncertainty for business and hurt the economy and “are the reason Sen. Bennet calls Washington the ‘Land of Flickering Lights,’” spokeswoman Kristin Lynch said.
Tipton and the other Colorado Republicans in the House supported the measure, which also garnered the votes of 86 Democrats, including Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, and Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Lakewood, opposed it.
The measure suspends the statutory debt limit through May 18. That gives the Treasury Department borrowing authority over the next three months.
Passage of the measure puts off until May an expected fight over spending cuts included in sequestration legislation that calls for automatic spending cuts to both defense and domestic programs.
The House measure was misdirected, Udall said.
“Instead of focusing on congressional pay, I strongly believe Congress should be focusing its energies on averting a government shutdown and addressing the effects of sequestration,” Udall said in his statement. “Both of these could stop the pay for our men and women in uniform, which is unacceptable. Protecting military paychecks is more worthy of our attention than political gimmicks.”
Tipton called on both houses to pass a “responsible budget” and said Congress can’t continue to raise the debt limit “without serious spending cuts that put our country’s fiscal future on a sustainable course.”