Video: Alexander: “No Budget, No Pay”

Cosponsors bill to cut off pay if Congress doesn’t pass budget and appropriations bills as required by law

Posted on January 23, 2013


“You wouldn’t get paid at the Grand Ole Opry if you showed up late and refused to sing, and Congress shouldn’t be paid for refusing to do its job.” – Lamar Alexander


WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced today he is an original cosponsor of legislation to cut off pay to Congress if it doesn’t pass a budget, saying, “The Senate majority hasn’t passed a budget in three years – you wouldn’t get paid at the Grand Ole Opry if you showed up late and refused to sing, and Congress shouldn’t be paid for refusing to do its job.”


Alexander continued: “You can’t balance a budget if you don’t even have one, and I’ve tried every means I know to persuade senators to do their work on time. Tennesseans are fed up with the failure of Congress to do its most basic job – and so am I.”


The “No Budget, No Pay Act” would cut off pay to members of Congress if they don’t pass a budget and all appropriations bills, as required by law, by the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1. Alexander cosponsored the same bill in the previous Congress. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), lead sponsor of the bipartisan bill, and Alexander, along with other Senate cosponsors, introduced the “No Budget, No Pay Act” today at a press conference in the Capitol.


Alexander is pushing for the Senate to not only pass a budget, but to bring appropriations bills to the floor and enact all 12 appropriations bills by the beginning of the fiscal year. Annual appropriations bills are supposed to provide oversight of federal spending. Last year, the Senate Appropriations Committee sent 11 of the 12 appropriations bills to the full Senate, but Senate Majority Leader Reid did not bring a single one to the floor for consideration.


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Press conference transcript:


“In Nashville on Sunday, as I was getting ready to get on the airplane to come up to the inauguration, I bought a newspaper, and the lady who sold me the paper recognized me and said politely, ‘Why don’t you get them to do something right up in Washington for a change?’ I said, ‘Like what?’ She said, ‘No work, no pay.’


“So, Senator Heller and Senator Manchin, I believe your idea is making its way through. People understand it clearly.


“I mean, in Tennessee, people know that if you joined the Grand Ole Opry and refused to sing, you wouldn’t get paid. So they think, ‘Well, if you join the U.S. Senate and refuse to pass a budget, which is required by law, you shouldn’t get paid.’ That’s the idea here.


“It is bipartisan, and in Tennessee, Congressman Jim Cooper from Nashville is a leading supporter of the effort. I think it’s a real proposal, one that will soon become law. I think that’s because people understand it: You can’t balance a budget if you don’t have a budget, and we haven’t had one in four years.


“I have one other thing I’d like to say.


“The president has just been reelected, he’s had a fine inauguration, he has an agenda he wants to pursue, and he’s faced with a single problem no one wants to talk about, which is the fact that all the programs seniors depend on are going to run out of money before too long. The Medicare trustees say that by [2024], there won’t be money to pay the bills for seniors who depend on [Medicare].


“And so I would invite the president to respond to the House of Representatives’ move this week, which creates a window of 2-3 months – to use this time to save Social Security, save Medicare, save Medicaid, and fix the debt. We can do that. There are a lot of us here on both sides of the aisle, and as Senator Cornyn said, everyone knows it has to be done.


“And in our country, great crises are solved only by presidential leadership or not at all. This is an opportunity for our newly reelected president, a number of us are willing to work with him to fix the debt. Thank you.”