The GOP's 'No Budget, No Pay' Plan Is A Farce: Congress Will Get Paid No Matter How A Budget Standoff Ends

John Boehner

Photo: AP

The “No Budget, No Pay” bill that passed the House of Representatives Wednesday is designed to stop all pay to members of Congress until they pass a budget. However, the title of the legislation is somewhat misleading.

Members of Congress will get paid — members earn $174,000 per year, or $348,000 per term — regardless of whether they pass a budget, they just might not get their paychecks right away.  

According to the bill, if by April 15 Congress hasn’t agreed to a concurrent resolution on the 2014 budget, the payroll administrator of the House will deposit all paychecks into an escrow account. When the members get that money will be determined by their success in negotiating a budget.  

The first thing that has to happen is that both the House and the Senate need to each pass a budget. This is easy for the House, which has already passed the Paul Ryan budget and is working on an updated version now. The onus, as intended, is on the Senate to produce their own budget.

Next, select Senators and Representatives start negotiating, with the goal of reconciling the two plans into a mutually-agreed upon conference report, which must then be passed by both chambers. 

This is called a concurrent resolution, and sets the levels of appropriation bills for the budgetary year. It’s not a law for the President to sign, just a negotiated, binding agreement over what appropriations bills will eventually be sent to the President.

If the House agrees on the concurrent resolution, Congress gets paid. At that point, every member of Congress gets the lump sum payment of all their paychecks that will have been put into escrow since April 15.

no budget no payThe relevant text

Photo: US House

If the House doesn’t agree to the concurrent resolution at any point in the 113th Congress, then it members will not get paid until the last day of Congress, in late 2014 or early 2015. At that point, each member will get all $348,000 in a lump sum. 

No matter what, Congress still gets paid. 

One other provision in the law is also interesting.

According to subsection (b) of section 2 of the bill, nonvoting delegates and resident commissioners will be subject to the same rules.

So despite the fact that the delegates can’t actually vote on a budget, they still will not be paid. 

This impacts Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico, Del. Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa, Del. Elanor Holmes Norton of D.C., Del. Madeleine Bordallo of Guam Del. Donna Christian-Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Del. Gregorio Sablan of the Northern Mariana Islands.

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