Americans are fed up with Congress and with good reason. Congress is for all intent and purposes broken.
Members of Congress spend more time bickering among themselves than working toward solutions for the common good of the people they serve. The toxic level of partisanship is bewildering to the average American struggling to make ends meet.
There are real challenges facing our country but Congress seems inadequate or incompetent to solve them.
It wasn’t always that way. Not too long ago, Congress was able to get things done. Go back a few decades and history confirms that despite ideological differences, Congress was able to pass a budget, confirm presidential nominees in reasonable time, enact programs and advance public policy.
Flash forward to the current Congress and all we see is gridlock. Case in point: It has been over 1,000 days since Congress passed a budget resolution.
Funding government is one of Congress’ most basic and fundamental responsibilities. Perhaps more telling, Congress has gone over a decade without passing all of its appropriations bills on time.
When Congress fails to pass spending bills on time, it relies instead on temporary spending measures. This start and stop spending process wreaks havoc for federal agencies and causes billions of dollars of waste and uncertainty as contracts and programs are delayed and penalty clauses kick in.
If Congress were a business, all of its members would be fired for nonperformance. In the private sector, if you don’t do your job on time you get reprimanded, demoted or even fired. In the business world deadlines, responsibility and accountability matter.
But not Congress. When its members fail to comply with their most basic, most obvious, most constitutionally necessary duty, they face no repercussions according to Jonathon Miller, co-founder of No Labels, a nonpartisan grassroots movement that believes our leaders need to put aside their political labels every now and then to do what’s right for our nation.
No Labels has released a 12-point plan called “Make Congress Work” that involves 12 simple, easy to enact changes to help fix our broken democracy.
First and foremost on the list is passing the “No Budget, No Pay” Act which says that if Congress doesn’t pass a budget and spending plan by Oct. 1, its members would not get paid until all spending bills are completed and sent to the president. There would be no retroactive pay.
This is the only No Labels solution that requires a new law, which could be passed in 2012, and would take effect when the new Congress is seated in 2013. There are two versions of the bill which has already attracted over 30 cosponsors, from both parties in the House and the Senate.
We support this bill. We think it would force members of Congress to come to the negotiating table on budget and spending bills and stay there until they reach agreement.
It’s time for members of Congress to quit shirking their responsibilities and do their work. If members of Congress can’t make spending and budget decisions on time, they shouldn’t get paid on time either — just like the rest of us.