How Washington's 'Blame Game' Can Be Used to Help Pass 'No Budget, No Pay' Legislation


The blame game: Democrats are blaming Republicans. The House of Representatives is blaming the Senate. An amendment to "No Budget, No Pay" legislation using blame can help.

"No Budget, No Pay," a bill in both the House and Senate, is meant as an incentive to Congress to pass an annual budget resolution and all associated appropriations bills before October 1st of each year. Congress’ responsibility for this is specified in the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 and the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.

If passed, both senators and representatives would not be paid starting October 1st of each year if both chambers had not completed the budget process. Pay would resume when both the Senate and House completed the process. The Senate bill has had one hearing and is pending mark-up.  The House bill is pending a hearing.

One recent objection to the bill was that it contained no provision for blame. If the House completed the process why should I, as a congressman, be penalized because the Senate can’t get its job done?

To overcome this objection, an amendment may be proposed that would apply the forfeiture of pay only to the chamber that had not completed the budget process; budget resolution and appropriations bills, by the deadline. This amendment can be called the “Fairness Amendment” to be polite, or the “Blame Amendment” to keep it honest.

I see four advantages to this amendment.

• Not penalizing the members of the chamber that did its job will increase chance of passage.

• The goal of No Labels, the primary proponent of the bill is to break congressional gridlock. This amendment uses an underlying cause of gridlock, blame, to achieve its goal.

• The Senate and House can’t control each other’s actions. This amendment acknowledges that while maintaining the element of peer pressure.

• If one chamber did not act, the American public could focus blame on the particular chamber rather than the entire Congress. If a “dump them all” movement gained strength, this could prevent a supporter from being defeated.

For this “Fairness” or “Blame” amendment to be added during mark-up, the House bill needs to be scheduled for a hearing. The goal is to get No Budget, No Pay passed on and signed into law. If using blame will get this done, I see nothing wrong.