House Passes No Budget, No Pay Act

January 23, 2013 1:53 PM
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The House passed a short-term debt ceiling fix that would extend the country’s borrowing authority until May, while compelling Congress to pass a budget or have their pay suspended.

The measure passed by a vote of 285-144 with 33 Republicans opposing and 86 Democrats supporting.

The No Budget No Pay Act of 2013 directs both chambers of Congress to adopt a budget resolution for fiscal year 2014 by April 15, 2013. If either body fails to pass a budget, members of that body would have their paychecks put into an escrow account starting on April 16 until that body adopts a budget. Any pay that is withheld would eventually be released at the end of the current Congress even if a budget doesn’t ever pass.

According to Paul Ryan (R-WI), “The House will not consider another debt-ceiling increase unless the Senate passes a budget. We’re not going to just keep raising the debt ceiling, either. We’re going to take this opportunity to make a down payment on our debt reduction. And we’re going to point our country in the right direction.”

Dennis Ross (R-FL) added, “Our credit hasn’t been downgraded just because of spending. Our country’s credit rating has been downgraded because we don’t have a plan for the future in terms of our spending and debt. The best way to plan for spending and paying off debt is to create and implement a budget. H.R. 325 will force Congress to pass a budget.”

There has been some debate on whether or not Congress can legally pass a law such as this one without violating the 27th Amendment in the Constitution. It says Congress cannot pass a law “varying” their pay in that same Congress. That means any pay increase or decrease can take effect only after an ensuing election.

“If I get a paycheck in my account every month, and now I don’t get that paycheck in my account, whatever may come at the end of the year, that’s varying. That could violate the 27th Amendment, ” said Rep. Robert A. Brady (D-PA). Brady is also the ranking member on the House Administration Committee, which oversees pay issues.

Do you agree or disagree with the premise of the No Budget No Pay Act, or is it a violation of the 27th Amendment? Take the short survey below and share your thoughts in the comments.

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.