Sen. Heller: Lawmakers shouldn't receive pay if they can't pass budget

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) will file an amendment to the government spending measure that says lawmakers can’t be paid until they pass final budget resolutions and all 12 appropriations bills. 

Until now, Congress has failed to meet that goal. Both chambers have only passed their own budgets this year, in March.  

Heller introduced “No Budget, No Pay” as stand-alone legislation in January when the new Congress was sworn in. He first proposed the measure in 2011. 

“The only reason this nation is yet again facing the possibility of a government shutdown is because Congress failed to do its job in the first place, which is to pass a long-term budget and appropriations bills,” Heller said in a release Wednesday. 

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“As a result, the American people are held hostage by Washington’s out-of-control spending and forced to observe as Congress jumps from crisis to crisis.”

After both chambers passed their individual budgets in March, Heller wrote a letter to their Budget Committees’ chairmen asking them to go to conference and develop a final bipartisan budget. That never happened. 

Only a few of the appropriations bills that made it out of committee made it to the House floor over the summer. None reached the Senate's. 

Heller’s amendment would require House and Senate lawmakers to pass a budget and appropriations bills by the beginning of each fiscal year in order to receive their salaries. The fiscal year begins Oct. 1. 

The government could shut down that day next week if Congress can’t reach a consensus on the budget. If that’s the outcome, current law dictates that lawmakers will still be paid. Many of their congressional staffers may not be, however. 

The government last shut down in 1995 and 1996.