“The first bill I introduced as a member of Congress in 2011 was the Constitutional Congressional Pay Accountability Act. I recently re-introduced it for the 113th Congress. This straightforward bill, which is barely five pages, would require Congress to pass a budget and all appropriations bills by the beginning of that fiscal year. If the budget doesn’t get passed, members of Congress won’t get paid. It holds everyone’s feet to the fire.
“I’m thrilled to see the House leadership put their support behind this concept. It is an important component to the House’s consideration of a temporary three month debt ceiling extension and is critical to ensuring we quickly turn to legislating a long-term fix to the unsustainable national debt that is crippling us and future generations.
“We have got to stop using last-minute legislating and short-term fixes. The worst thing we can do for the economy, and especially for people running small businesses, is to constantly keep them in limbo about what the government is going to do next. But it’s not enough just to pass a budget- we need one that shows fiscal responsibility in both the short and long term, in the form of spending restraint and a Balanced Budget Amendment so that spending beyond our means ceases to be a habit for our nation’s leaders.”
Hultgren’s bill, H.R. 308, is structured in such a way as to avoid complications caused by the 27th Amendment. He has twice voted for a Balanced Budget Amendment requiring the federal government not to spend more than it takes in.
Similar legislation gets different reaction in Springfield
In contrast, state legislation similar to Hultgren's was introduced this week in Springfield by a freshman Republican from Okawville. The response to holding back General Assembly pay until the State's bills were caught up? "It's a stunt," one lobbyist said.
State Rep Charlie Meier's HB 171 is being treated as a joke by liberal state political news sources, while others see Meier's legislation as a sincere attempt to sober the General Assembly's attitude towards state obligations.
There are major differences between the proposals, however. Congressman Hultgren's legislation simply withholds pay until a budget is passed and Rep. Meier's requires $9 Billion in late bills be caught up before state lawmakers are paid. The second difference is the US House has fiscal-serious Republicans in the majority. Springfield's State House is controlled by a super-majority of spend-happy Democrats.