My Feb. 14 column, “Congress: No Budget, No Pay” discussed the similarly titled bill in Congress.

This proposed law stops pay for members of Congress if they do not pass the budget and the individual appropriations bills by Oct. 1, the beginning of the fiscal year. Their pay would be restarted once the respective bills have been passed, but lost pay would not be recoverable.

The intent of the bill is to incentivize Congress to put its fiscal house in order. Because of the uncertainty created when Congress fails to approve spending bills on time, billions of dollars are wasted every year. When they fail to meet the deadline, Congress temporarily funds the government several days or weeks at a time through a series of continuing resolutions.

Not knowing how much money they will have after the continuing resolution expires, heads of federal agencies must delay decisions. This results in huge inefficiencies.

In the Defense Department, for example, the building of new weapons systems cannot be started. This costs government, as we must pay for the contractor’s increased overhead due to carrying employees without authority to start work.

The ultimate debacle of congressional budget roulette occurs when Congress threatens to, or does, shut down government. After Congress has finished its bickering and does its work, the government starts back up and government employees are paid for the time they were prohibited from coming to work.

No successful business could be run this way. But this is how Congress runs the largest financial entity in the world, the U.S. government. Congress has eight months to debate and modify the president’s budget after it is presented in early February, and they don’t do it. This is unacceptable.

Good news is on the horizon. The number of co-sponsors of “No Budget, No Pay” in the House has increased significantly since the initiative was introduced, and on March 14 there was a very favorable hearing in the Senate.

Positive media coverage from CNN, Fox News, AP and others reflect that this effort is gaining momentum. In a poll, 88 percent of voters supported “No Budget, No Pay.”

At the time of my earlier column, the only Georgia politician to co-sponsor the bill was John Barrow. Since then, Sen. Saxby Chambliss has become a co-sponsor and Jack Kingston intends to co-sponsor it soon.

We owe Saxby, John, and Jack our thanks. They are willing to put their pay at risk to help fix a broken Congress.

Sen. Johnny Isakson believes that “No Budget, No Pay” is a good idea, but he is focused on his bill to shift the federal government to biennial budgeting. This is another excellent idea.

Supporting “No Budget, No Pay” is the non-partisan grass roots group called “No Labels.” This measure is one of 12 proposals in its “Make Congress Work!” plan.

Make Congress Work! and “No Budget, No Pay” are truly non-partisan. The performance of both political parties will be significantly improved by these changes in congressional process. As the country debates the issue of big government vs. small government, let’s also work toward something we can all agree on: Good government.

Ed Conant is a retired U.S. Navy officer who lives in Savannah.


become a member       become a member       become a member       become a member       become a member      
Scroll to Top