With a vote of 285 to 199, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 325, the so-called “No Budget, No Pay" Act, on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013. This effectively puts the debt ceiling debate on hold until the Senate passes a budget, something it has not done for four years.
In saying why he had voted in support of H.R. 325, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (GA) released the following statement.
“Every family in America knows that when times are tough, the only way to pay all of your bills is to sit around the table and make a budget, prioritizing those expenses that are the most important and reducing those expenses that are less so. For the federal government to pay its bills, it too needs a budget, and since 1974, federal law has required the House and Senate to pass a budget each year. As a member of the House Budget Committee, I am proud that the House has met its obligation throughout my first term in Congress, yet the Senate has ignored that law for almost four years. As America faces its largest budget crisis in modern times, it is operating without any budget plan whatsoever. That doesn’t just violate common sense; it violates federal law and must stop.”
“While the 1974 law requiring budgets didn’t have any teeth, today we passed ‘No Budget, No Pay,’ which withholds Congressional pay for all members of a chamber of Congress until that chamber passes a budget. I don’t expect the Senate to agree with me on all policy, but I do ask that the Senate do its job.”
The vote went down largely along party lines with 86 Democrats joining the 199 Republicans to vote “yes.” But there wasn't consensus, even in the Georgia members, with Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Broun being one of the 33 Republicans to join the 111 Democrats in voting against the bill. Prior to the vote, Broun gave his reason for voting against it.
“If Congress votes to remove the cap on how much the Treasury can borrow, it’d be akin to playing with fire,” said Rep. Broun. “We’ve seen time and time again that once the federal government opens the door to increased spending, it doesn’t have a great track record of going back later to close it. In the next few months, Congress has to deal with the implementation of costly new Obamacare policies and the $1.2 trillion sequestration deadline, not to mention the end of the six-month spending bill, which is currently keeping the federal government open. Without a debt ceiling to serve as a reality-check, I worry that the Treasury will run up our tab so high that a limit will never be put back into place. And if by chance Congress does attempt to pass a new limit in May, the sheer magnitude of the increase – quite possibly in the trillions – will be a deal-breaker for many Republicans and Democrats alike."
The bill temporarily suspends the statutory debt limit until May 18, allowing the treasury to borrow unlimited amounts to meet federal government obligations. Broun said he was worried that by May overspending would be so excessive that it would be impossible to get it into line. He said he was encouraged, however, by the No Budget, No Pay part of the bill.
Reports are that it will pass the Senate, too, and the President is not expected to veto it.
What do you think? With their own pay checks on the line, do you think members of Congress will finally get serious about passing a budget and getting spending in check?