Ribble Op-Ed "For Congress, it should be: No budget, no pay"
By Reid J. Ribble
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
February 21, 2012
Americans are fed up with Congress, and they have every right to be.
In the midst of congressional gridlock and partisan bickering lies a frankly embarrassing fact: It has been over 1,000 days since the Senate has proposed a budget, one of its most basic responsibilities. And Congress has gone over a decade without passing all of our appropriations bills on time.
It's no secret in Washington that a budget is highly unlikely to pass at all this year, let alone by the Oct. 1 deadline that marks the beginning of the fiscal year.
I came to Congress in 2010 from the business world, where deadlines, responsibility and accountability matter. To fix a broken Congress, we need to instill these values once again in Washington.
In business, incentives matter. In Congress, the current incentives encourage members to remain in their partisan corners, shirking their responsibility to make the difficult fiscal decisions.
To change Washington, we've got to change these incentives. Members of Congress need to be held accountable for passing a budget resolution and appropriations bills on time. Yet we receive a paycheck even if we don't fulfill this fundamental responsibility.
This is the basic premise behind the No Budget, No Pay Act, a bill I have co-sponsored with my Wisconsin colleague Rep. Tom Petri.
The bill says that if Congress doesn't pass a budget and spending plan by Oct. 1, members would not be paid until all spending bills are completed and sent to the president. There would be no retroactive pay.
The Senate version of the No Budget, No Pay bill is scheduled to receive a hearing on March 14 by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
We owe it to our constituents to pass a budget on time, because as we continue to get paid, Congress' reliance on temporary spending bills breeds inefficiency and hurts agencies' ability to effectively plan for the future.
As just two examples out of many, the Food and Drug Administration was unable to hire and train enough people to perform safety inspections, and the Defense Department was forced to delay critical maintenance of Humvees and cancel research on vital next-generation weapon systems.
It's time to reform a broken Congress. That's why I support the No Budget, No Pay Act, one of a dozen proposals to make Congress Work by No Labels, a group of Republicans, Democrats and independents dedicated to making American government work again.
Together, we can take action. We can pass No Budget, No Pay into law and hold ourselves accountable to do our job on time. Please go to NoLabels.org to support the measure and attend its hearing in March.
U.S. Rep. Reid J. Ribble (R-Wis.) is co-founder of the Fix Congress Now Caucus.