Last week, we in the U.S. House of Representatives made great strides toward ensuring that Congress passes all of the spending bills needed to fund the federal government on time. That’s only happened four times in the last 60 years and not once since 1996. The House recognizes that if our nation is going to tackle the significant fiscal challenges we face, this alarming trend cannot be allowed to continue – no matter the political or ideological obstacles that stand in our way.
That’s why we are asking Americans across the country to contact their Senators at NoLabels.org or at Senate.gov and urge our sister chamber to pass the No Budget, No Pay measure as well. The idea is simple and straightforward. If Congress fails to fulfill its foremost responsibility by exercising the “power of the purse” and passing a budget on time, we don’t get paid. More than 88 percent of the public backs the idea. It passed the House with broad bipartisan support. Most important, it sends a message to the country – and indeed the world – that this Congress is willing to put politics aside in pursuit of the results our constituents demand.
This measure stands as a symbol of our commitment to getting our fiscal house in order. In this era of economic recovery, exploding deficits and impending sequestration, we need our government to operate as efficiently as it can. That simply isn’t possible unless federal departments and agencies have the financial certainty they need to plan for the future. And that, in turn, isn’t possible when Congress kicks the can down the road and forces them to operate without a budget. With such uncertainty as to what the future holds, scarce resources cannot be allocated to best reflect our national priorities. In belt-tightening times like these, the problem grows all the more urgent.
At the same time, however, it’s important to note that No Budget, No Pay isn’t just about dollars and cents. It’s about addressing an overwhelming national sense that political games and partisan jockeying have left our government not just broke, but broken. To pass a budget and earn their paychecks, your elected representatives will have no choice but to reach across the aisle, strive for compromise and consensus and ultimately come together in ways we haven’t for a very long time. In this context, the measure is as much about straightening our national politics as it is about straightening our national pocketbook.
We in the House believe that if our elected leaders can come together on the budget, we can begin tackling the serious issues our nation is facing today. Now, we and thousands of others across the country are asking the Senate to make the same compelling statement about this government’s ability to put the people before politics.
Schrader represents Oregon's 5th Congressional District and Ribble represents Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District. Both are members of the No Labels problem solvers group.