Weekly Columns

No Budget, No Pay

Jan 31 2013

It should come as no surprise that if we don’t do our jobs at work we face consequences. But what may surprise you is that the Senate has failed to do its most basic job to create and pass a budget resolution in nearly four years, but has faced no penalty for failing to meet this requirement.

Setting our nation’s budget priorities each fiscal year is important to our country’s financial health. When we fail to pass a budget, we continue on the road of reckless and unsustainable spending. We’re working to change what has unfortunately become the new normal in Washington and hold members accountable for doing the most basic responsibilities with legislation that prohibits members of Congress from being paid if they fail to pass a long-term budget and all appropriations bills by the beginning of the fiscal year.

This legislation appropriately called No Budget, No Pay, is necessary to getting our fiscal house in order while establishing our spending priorities.

No Budget, No Pay holds members of Congress accountable for passing a budget in a responsible manner and not just resorting to a business as usual approach to addressing our nation’s budgetary issues.

By law, the Senate is required to adopt a budget resolution, but the chamber has failed to adopt a budget resolution in nearly four years. Since 2007, Congress has passed numerous omnibus spending bills and continuing resolutions which punts the difficult spending and budget decisions to a later date.

The good news is Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray recently announced the committee would work to create and pass a budget. While we were told the Senate would do its best to pass all the appropriations bill for the current fiscal year which began in October, not one of the 12 appropriations bills has been signed into law. I am optimistic that we can return the Senate to its proper function and create a framework for spending so Arkansans can see and understand where their hard-earned money is going.

Our country is facing record deficits and an ever-increasing debt and the Senate must act on putting us on a path of fiscal responsibility. Families are stretching their dollars and fighting to make ends meet in this economic environment. They are planning their budgets in a responsible manner and their elected officials should be doing the same. Passing a budget and approving the appropriations bills is the accountability they deserve.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he intends to bring No Budget, No Pay legislation to the floor for a vote and news reports indicate President Obama is supportive of this legislation. Similar legislation recently pass the House of Representatives so this idea of withholding Congressional paychecks to force members to do their jobs is one most of us agree on.

While we shouldn’t have to resort to legislation to make members of Congress do their jobs, our financial security is too important to ignore. We need to pass a budget that reins in spending and balances our budget. This is a responsibility of Congress and this legislation is a step in the right direction.