The US House of Representatives recently passed H.R.325, the No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013.
The No Budget, No Pay Act passed by a vote of 285-144 with 86 Democrats joining 199 Republicans to support this measure, 33 Republicans joined 111 Democrats in opposition. Good bills are rarely passed with bipartisan support, this bill is an exception, right?
The legislation temporarily suspends the debt ceiling and states, “If by April 15, 2013, a House of Congress has not agreed to a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2014” the payroll administrator shall hold the salary in an escrow account, which will only be given to the Representatives after a budget has been passed OR “on the last day of the One Hundred Thirteenth Congress.”
This is not a good bill. It does not actually withhold the pay of any member of Congress if a budget is not passed, it simply delays payment until a budget is passed or the term expires. It should more accurately be called the “No Budget, Delayed Pay Act of 2013.”
Aside from no doing what it claims, Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor reported on another issue with the bill. Greir wrote “It is quite possible that the ‘no pay’ part of the bill is unconstitutional.
Why is that? Because of the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, that’s why.”
The 27th Amendment reads, in part, “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of the Representatives shall have intervened.”
Despite the fact that the compensation is not changing, the bill could still be unconstitutional as it alters the scheduled dates of pay, which would be “varying the compensation.” It is unlikely any of the Republicans will challenge the bill, and the Democrats reportedly see “the legislation as a white flag on the part of the GOP, something that allows Congress to skirt the debt limit issue and move on to other fiscal arguments.”
Walter Hickey of BusinessInsider.com points out, “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.”
It’s possible that if No Budget, No Pay is signed into law, that one of the six non-voting Delegates will file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the bill. Of course, the bill must first pass the Senate.