Dock Lawmakers’ Pay to Curb Abuse of Continuing Resolutions

The state of our nation right now is in chaos.

Congress continues to ignore our most pressing problems. The crux of these issues is our inability to produce sound fiscal policy and appropriate budgeting practices.

Although it may sound like I’m a broken record, I keep referring to these issues because they are important for the American economy to revive and reduce the financial pressures that Americans face.

Simply put, it’s immoral and downright deplorable to pass our country on to the next several generations in a condition worse than how we found it.

Unfortunately, members continue to encourage excessive spending without taking into account the consequences for our national deficit and debt. We cannot improve any other aspect of this country without lifting our national debt.

When will we learn? It’s past time to make internal changes that will act as the foundation for landmark legislation for years to come.

We are at a turning point in U.S. history, where we can invest in tomorrow’s education, energy, trade, and commerce, but to do so, we must first focus on Congress’ inefficiencies. With this in mind, I introduced the No Pay for Congressional Recklessness Act. This legislation I believe provides a framework for reducing the number of continuing resolution spending bills.   

Members of Congress must make decisions that benefit Americans and uphold a level of integrity that is representative of all constituents. The purpose of continuing resolutions was not to be an annual trigger law. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have come to depend on continuing resolutions.

Historically, continuing resolutions were intended to provide the benefit to government operations without the immediate consequences that could result from a shutdown. However, most people fail to realize the long-term consequences of this type of decision-making. A continuing resolution should be used as a last resort measure because it can often result in unjustified or unsupervised spending packages.

Continuing resolutions compensate for Congress’ dereliction of duty and inability to perform one of its most critical annual tasks: appropriating the funds necessary to operate all 12 major federal spending bills that keep the country running. This is the 26th consecutive calendar year in which Congress members have failed to fully fund the government with all the necessary funding bills.

This will also be the fifth consecutive fiscal year without a single funding bill being signed into law before the fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. This is not all. In 45 years of the current budgeting system, Congress was able to pass all its funding bills on time just four times. The last one occurred in 1997.

This is only getting worse. Congress must be held responsible for its commitment not just to a career but also to public service. I am tired of the lack accountability in both political parties and I think many of my colleagues are, too. The American people are demanding systemic change—at the very least—and that should be enough of an intrinsic motivator for us all.

I encourage members to support the No Pay for Congressional Recklessness Act. This bill has the potential to reshape Congress’s conduct on the floor. The bill would wiThhold members’ pay while a continuing resolution was in effect for the duration of the 117th Congress, reduce members’ pay by 1% for each day a continuing resolution is in effect in subsequent years, and prohibit the use of member travel funds while a continuing resolution is in effect.

This is an effort to reinforce the idea that a continuing resolution is not acceptable, but an emergency failsafe. It’s my hope that we, as members of Congress, will accept these guidelines to practice more timely appropriations budgeting.

That’s a small sacrifice in the grand scheme of things and will provide countless opportunities for everyday Americans who heavily rely on accurate budget reporting and operating efficiencies.

This measure calling for appropriations overhaul should have been enacted long ago, but let’s make this change now before we continue with the vicious cycle that Congress has been performing under for almost half a century.

The Daily Signal is open to all perspectives. This is not intended to represent The Heritage Foundation’s views.

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