LLPH celebrates the fact that one of the “perfect” representatives kept up his near “perfect” record. We thank Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI 3) for voting against raising the debt ceiling for the next three months without any spending cuts. We did not score a vote against this increase, but we promise to score any future increases that do not include spending cuts.
Here’s the Congressman’s statement from Facebook:
I voted no on H R 325, No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013. The bill has two parts.
First, the bill suspends the debt ceiling through May 18, 2013. In other words, it allows the government to operate as though there is no debt ceiling. On May 19, the debt ceiling will automatically increase by the amount borrowed during the suspension. Because the government borrows about $4 billion per day, this bill will likely increase the debt ceiling by $400 billion or more, without any cuts or reforms to reduce future spending.
This marks the first time Congress has suspended the debt ceiling, and it’s a significant step toward abolishing the debt ceiling, as some Democrats have demanded. Suspending the debt ceiling (instead of raising it) gives Members of Congress cover, because they can essentially vote for a massive debt ceiling increase now (without a particular dollar figure attached) and later claim they had no idea how much of an increase they were voting for.
Second, the bill includes the misguided and unconstitutional “No Budget, No Pay” provision. If either the House or Senate doesn’t pass a budget by April 15 of this year, that chamber’s respective members will have their paychecks withheld until the chamber passes a budget or until the last day of the 113th Congress, whichever comes first. Current law requires that U.S. Representatives be paid on the last day of each month, so withholding payment is unconstitutional under the 27th Amendment, which prohibits any law “varying the compensation” for current Members of Congress. An important policy behind the 27th Amendment is limiting the power of congressional leadership (and the President) to bribe or blackmail Members of Congress to vote a particular way.
And we can see the importance of that policy here. Contrary to popular assertions, the “No Budget, No Pay” provision doesn’t encourage Members of Congress to “do their job,” it encourages them to vote yes on a particular bill or resolution—in this case a particular budget—even if that legislation is bad for the American people. If they don’t vote yes, then they might not be paid. What’s next? “No Gun Control, No Pay”? “No Tax Increase, No Pay”? “No NDAA, No Pay”? This bill blackmails Members of Congress and sets a dangerous precedent, punishing them for representing their constituents.
It’s also important to note that this bill does not require Congress to pass a budget for Members of Congress to be paid. It requires the House to pass a budget for Representatives to be paid and the Senate to pass a budget for Senators to be paid. If each chamber passes a budget by April 15, then every Member of Congress will be paid on time, despite the fact that no single budget has passed both chambers. In other words, No Budget, Still Paid.
The bill passed 285-144.