I rise today in strong support of H.R. 325, the “No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013.”
This legislation directs members of the House and Senate to adopt a budget resolution by April 15, 2013. If either body does not, members of that body will have their pay withheld until they pass a budget. It’s simple: no budget, no pay. The American people understand that they don’t get paid if they don’t do their job, and neither should Members of Congress.
In addition, to ensure the complete and timely payment of the obligations of the U.S. Government, this legislation allows Treasury to issue debt between the date of enactment and May 18, 2013. However, Treasury may only issue enough debt necessary to pay bills coming due before May 18. I want to be perfectly clear on this point: this bill does not allow Treasury to run up an unlimited amount of debt between now and May 18. The debt authorized under this bill must be tied to bills coming due during that time frame. Further, on May 19, a new debt limit is automatically established.
So, that’s what this bill does. The larger question is why are we even talking about the debt and debt limit? Our nation’s debt is not just some abstract number – it has a direct impact on American families. During the President’s fiscal commission, we heard non-partisan testimony that when the debt is this large in comparison to the economy, it costs the country the equivalent of about one million jobs. Think about that – if Washington got its debt and spending under control, one million more Americans could be working today.
As if that wasn’t sobering enough, Fitch Ratings recently warned that the failure to come up with a plan for reducing our debt would likely still result in a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating. A lower credit rating is sure to mean higher interest rates. That means higher credit card payments, higher car payments, higher student loan payments and certainly higher mortgage payments.
Despite these non-partisan warnings, the Democrat-controlled Senate has not produced a budget in more than 1,300 days – that’s four years without a budget. How can we begin to get our debt under control when Democrats won’t even produce a budget? This bill is the first step in forcing Democrats to put forward a budget so we can start holding Washington accountable for its out-of-control spending.
Every day American families have to make decisions about their household finances. They have to adjust their spending to cover a whole host of things: groceries, student loan payments, braces for children, and a replacement for that aging refrigerator. Of course, they can’t buy everything they want. Every day they have to make tough choices.
It is time for Congress – the House and the Senate – to make some tough choices. To be honest, Mister Speaker, this isn’t a tough choice where I come from. Where I grew up, if you didn’t do your job, you didn’t get paid. It’s time for Congress to start living with the same facts of life everyone else in America has to. I support the “No Budget, No Pay Act” because it brings back a bit of accountability and common sense to Washington. I urge my colleagues to join me in passing this bill.