As Congressional budget talks continue, Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) is again calling for passage of a bill that would withhold congressional paychecks if budget talks aren’t concluded by the end of the fiscal year in September. Wittman originally introduced the Inaction Has Consequences Act on January, 29 2019, but it stalled in the House Administration Committee.
In an email newsletter Saturday, Wittman said, “Members of Congress should be held accountable for their inaction. That is why I believe we should immediately pass my legislation called the Inaction Has Consequences Act that says if Members don’t complete appropriations bills by the end of the fiscal year, they don’t get a paycheck. If my legislation were to become law, we would not find ourselves in these shutdown or stop-gap funding scenarios.”
Most U.S. Representatives earn a $174,000 yearly salary, while the Speaker of the House earns $223,500 and the House Majority and Minority Leaders each earn $193,400, according to a Congressional Research Service report.
Wittman introduced his bill in the immediate aftermath of the longest shutdown in U.S. government history, a 35-day shutdown from December 2018 into January 2019 that saw federal employees required to work without getting paid. Many senators and representatives eventually declared they would not accept their congressional paychecks until the shutdown was ended, according to The Roll Call.
After the shutdown ended, the federal employees were paid, but they are now suing for damages related to the delayed paychecks, according to Politico.
In 2019, Wittman said shutdowns are avoidable and criticized stopgap measure called continuing resolutions (CR) that Congress uses to delay a budget decision without triggering a shutdown.
He said, “If Members of Congress cannot get their most basic responsibility of funding our government done, we must be held accountable. There are serious consequences to this crisis budgeting. Even when Congress manages to avoid a shutdown and pass stop-gap continuing resolutions (CRs), the American people suffer. Under a CR, all spending remains the same; our military and federal agencies can’t fund new programs, cut outdated ones, or plan for the future.”
In his Saturday email, Wittman criticized the CR that was passed last Friday. He said, “This simply means that rather than buckling down and getting the work of the people done, [Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA-12)] irresponsible legislating continues to hold the American people hostage. The American people do not want to be fretting about government funding a few days before Christmas – they need tangible relief, a clear path forward into 2021, a guidepost on the road to recovery.”
“While it does avert a government shutdown, it only serves as a Band-Aid on a broken leg,” Wittman said. “Congress should feel the same pressure our federal employees have felt.”
– – –