by: Vern Buchanan
The date: April 29, 2009. The time: 05:31 p.m. On that day, at that hour, the United States Congress did something it has failed to do ever since – pass a budget.
That’s why I’m pleased the House will vote on legislation this week to withhold congressional pay until a federal budget is passed.
While countless families and businesses across America have had to make the tough choices to spend within their means, Congress has operated over a thousand days without passing a fiscal blueprint to restore financial sanity to Washington. This blatant neglect of a fundamental duty has led to runaway spending, trillion-dollar deficits and has contributed to the worst jobs climate since the Great Depression.
Make no mistake, passing a budget is not a choice. The 1974 Congressional Budget Act obligates both chambers to adopt a budget resolution every year by April 15. The House has done its part, passing resolutions the past two years that cut trillions in wasteful spending. Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and others in his chamber continue to sit on the sidelines – 1,364 days and counting.
During this time, the national debt has grown from $11 trillion to over $16 trillion – exceeding the entire U.S. economy. In fact, the United States recently joined Greece on the short list of seven developed nations with debt exceeding total economic output. The last time America’s debt topped the size of its overall economy was in 1947 due to the costs incurred fighting World War II. Today, there is no excuse for spending more than we’re taking in. Frankly, it’s a recipe for disaster.
The people deserve better. And for that reason, I have four words: No Budget, No Pay.
The legislation I have co-sponsored is simple – members of the U.S. Senate and House do not get paid until they pass a budget. The appropriately named “No Budget, No Pay Act,” stipulates that if Congress does not approve a budget and spending bills by October 1st of each year, the paycheck for every single member of the Senate and House will be withheld until a budget is approved. Additionally, no member can retroactively receive pay that would have been earned during the time without a budget.
No small business would tolerate paying an employee who refuses to do his or her job. So why should taxpayers pay a Congress that refuses to complete one of its most basic annual responsibilities? They shouldn’t, and that’s why I support the “No Budget, No Pay Act.”
In Florida, passing a balanced budget is priority number one for the state legislature. In Washington, we need less talk and more action if we’re ever to remove the burden of debt that weighs so heavily upon us and future generations.
It’s time to hold Congress’ feet to the fire.