WASHINGTON — Even though Republicans now control Congress, Sen. Dean Heller still wants to hold feet to the fire on passing timely budgets and spending bills.
Heller, R-Nev., on Wednesday reintroduced the “No Budget, No Pay Act,” a personal favorite on which he campaigned for the Senate in 2012.
The legislation would require senators and House members to complete work before Oct. 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, on a budget resolution and on the 12 appropriations bills necessary to fund the government. If not, their salaries would be withheld until the work is completed. Pay could not be collected retroactively.
“Why should members of Congress get paid for not doing their job? That’s easy, they shouldn’t,” Heller said when introducing the bill along with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Congress mired in partisanship has found it virtually impossible in recent years to pass a budget or complete appropriations bills, relying on massive catchall spending bills instead to keep the government running. In October 2013, federal departments closed for 16 days when Congress failed to pass a funding bill altogether.
The “No Budget, No Pay” concept has been backed by No Labels, a nonpartisan “good government” organization, as a way to promote discipline on Capitol Hill. Others have dismissed it as a gimmick that sounds good and is easy to explain but would be unconstitutional in practice.
Still, a limited version was passed by Congress in 2013 as part of a deal to raise the government’s debt ceiling. Lawmakers met its requirement to complete a budget resolution by April 15 of that year.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @STetreaultDC.