By Levi Lippincott-Sarpy County Republican Party Chairman
Since the 2012 election it seems the Republicans in Congress have decided to take on a position similar to France when it comes to a fight, unconditional preemptive surrender.
On January 23rd, 2012, all three of Nebraska’s Republican Congressmen and 196 of their peers voted for H.R. 325, the so called “No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013.” This can only be politely described as an incredibly compromising move.
The votes cast for this bill were done as part of a strategy to get the media on the Republican side in order to sling a fancy new catch phrase, “No Budget, No Pay.” Clearly those that voted for this were not living in Realville.
Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stated, “This bill simply says, ‘Congress, do your job.’” Here in Realville nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing casting a vote for this monstrosity accomplished was a sacrifice of principle in order to achieve a talking point for interviews and media use. A talking point the media will not let them continue using once the ink from President Obama’s pen dries.
The talking point “No Budget, No Pay” sounds great on the surface. If Congress fails to pass a budget for the 2014 fiscal year then their paychecks will be withheld.
Now in Realville we like facts, and the fact is that it is not if Congress fails to pass a budget, it is if Congress fails to pass a budget concurrent resolution for the 2014 fiscal year. A concurrent resolution is nothing more than an item passed by both the House and Senate that is not presented to the President for a signature and does not have the force of law.
In order for the resolution to be binding upon Congress the House and Senate Budget Committees must meet to reconcile the concurrent resolution and produce a conference report. This conference report must then be presented to the House and Senate where another vote must be taken and passed in both chambers. Only then does the resolution have a binding effect upon Congress. From there it can be forwarded on to the President and be signed into law, although this is not necessary for the budget process.
This means Congress does not need to come to an agreement and actually pass a budget to restore their paychecks. It only means that both chambers must pass a resolution and the House and Senate Budget Committees have to meet to reconcile the resolutions. At that point, whether or not reconciliation takes place, Congress has met its obligation to begin collecting their paychecks again.
Those who want to continue playing politics and not actually pass a budget can rest easy. The 27th Amendment prevents the current payrate of those serving from being altered. Any pay that is withheld would eventually be released at the end of the current Congress even if a budget is never passed.
Those residing in Realville were briefly hopeful that the Republicans would not just trade their principles in order to get such a weak talking point. They were quickly saddened when they realized they got a whole lot more; a temporary suspension of the debt ceiling until May 19th will go into effect upon this act becoming law.
Fiscally conservative Republicans preemptively surrendered their principles and the nation’s financial well being in order to receive praise from a media that loathes them. They thought it would be a wise move to say, “What debt ceiling?” in order to have the ability to stand in front of a camera and say, “No Budget, No Pay!”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), an apparent visitor to Realville, called the bill a gimmick to lure in the House’s most conservative members. Reid stated, “I understand and we all understand the tea party plays a big part in what goes on in the House, and they need a gimmick or two to get things done over there.”
The Democrats are simply delighted at this bill’s passage because they know that politics is a long game. Reid touted, “In the short term… it removes the threat of default. For the long term it sets a helpful precedent that’s going to make raising the debt ceiling easier from now on.”
Those living in Realville realize that people occasionally make mistakes and the conservative House members that were not fully aware of how terrible this bill was can redeem themselves. Each conservative should reach out to their peers on the House Budget Committee and urge them to not allow this bill to be reconciled and a conference report created.
If the conservatives are unsuccessful in preventing the reconciliation from occurring, their next step should be to reach out to their peers in the House. They should urge their peers to vote no on the reconciled bill’s conference report so it does not make it to the President.
What is needed now is not unconditional preemptive surrender, but principled leadership that produces a realistic and attainable budget against current expenditures and revenue. Hopefully the Congressmen from Nebraska will be able to rise to the occasion.
You can do your part by reaching out to your House representative, see who voted and how they voted by looking here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2013/roll030.xml
If you would like to read this bill for yourself you can do so by looking here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113hr325eh/pdf/BILLS-113hr325eh.pdf