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Heller proposes “no budget, no pay” amendment

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., proposed an amendment on Monday that would hit members of Congress where it hurts when they fail to pass timely budgets.

The "no budget, no salary" amendment would prevent lawmakers from collecting their paychecks if Congress fails to finalize a budget resolution by the beginning of any fiscal year.

Heller said the proposal was a protest against the inability of Congress to pass a budget since 2009.

"If Congress doesn’t do its job, its members shouldn’t get paid," he said.

Republicans have complained the Senate under Democratic control has not passed a budget "in more than 800 days." But Republicans controlled the Senate in 1998, 2004 and 2006, other years when Congress failed to finish a budget.

In the 36 years since Congress installed its budgeting process, it has failed five times to complete a budget resolution — in 1998, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The budget resolution is not a binding piece of legislation. Rather it provides a framework for spending and tax committees to form specific followup bills. In theory, this give Congress some control to ensure that spending and revenue bills fit into a bigger blueprint.

Under Heller’s amendment, lawmakers would resume getting their salaries when they pass a budget. But the checks would not be retroactive.

Heller intended to introduce his amendment to a Senate resolution that calls for millionaires to "make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort." Whether he would get the opportunity became unclear when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Monday used a parliamentary procedure known as "filling the tree," which blocks amendments to a pending bill.

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