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Matt Vespa

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January 19, 2013 - 7:38 am

As Republicans strategize on what they’ll do on the eve of battle, they’ve planned a three-month extension of the debt ceiling, as long as Senate Democrats pass a budget.  As Bridget Johnson noted on January 18:

…the current chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Steve Scalise (R-La.), and past chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Tom Price (R-Ga.), and Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said in a joint statement.

“Next week, we will vote for a bill requiring that the Senate pass a budget, or the Senators’ own salary will be withheld.  It’s simple: The American people expect Washington to pass a budget and live by it.  No budget, no pay. That will represent the first step to put us on a path to a balanced federal budget in the next 10 years,” they continued.

“Unless we quickly address the skyrocketing national debt, America will continue to follow Greece down the path towards insolvency.  In order to allow time for the Senate to act, next week’s bill will extend the debt limit for three months. This is a necessary first step as we work to halt the decline of America and puts the focus where it belongs: on the Senate who has failed to do their jobs to pass a budget for more than three years.”

As part of the agreement, the House will work toward a balanced budget in 10 years.  House leadership also agreed to stand by the $974 billion discretionary number that is part of the sequestration process.

“A long-term increase in the debt limit that is not preceded by meaningful and responsible reductions in government spending might avert a default, but it would also invite a downgrade of our nation’s credit that damages our economy, hurts families and small businesses, and destroys jobs,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.

House Republicans were on their retreat today in Williamsburg, Va.

There is one problem.  The “no budget, no pay” initiative, which I agree with in principle, is unconstitutional. Rep. Darrell Issa ( R-Ca.) was cited in Jonathan Strong’s January 18 Roll Call piece on this development.

 …[the] legality of the “no pay” part of the deal could run afoul of the 27th Amendment, which says: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

GOP leadership aides said Friday the plan would only withhold pay until a budget is passed, allowing the prospective law to pass muster under the amendment. Issa said that while Congress could temporarily withhold pay, the threat would essentially be empty because eventually members would have to receive their withheld pay in order for their compensation to not have been varied.

Lastly, it seems that Republicans have reversed their position on sequestration, and will allow some real spending cuts to go into effect.  As Conn Carroll of The Washington Examiner wrote yesterday, this is a “tactical retreat,” but:

House Leadership has not given up on the idea of using the debt limit as leverage to force a debate about unsustainable federal spending though. They just want to get their ducks in a row before they begin negotiating in earnest with President Obama.  An extra three months will allow the House time to pass fundamental entitlement reform through regular order, perhaps even including a Balanced Budget Amendment.

But those three months will also allow the $1.2 trillion sequester to begin to take effect in March… but after the fiscal cliff fight many more Republicans are eager to see some real spending cuts actually happen, even if it means defense gets hit too.

This reality has already been accepted by many in the conservative defense hawk community. American Enterprise Institute defense expert Mackenzie Eaglen recently told Human Events,” At the end of the day, there aren’t going to be any more acceptable alternative spending cuts to replace the sequester, or more tax increases. We know some type of sequestration’s going to happen for defense, because there is nowhere else to go.

One thing is certain, pink slips are going to be issued at DoD.

 

Matt Vespa is a web editor at Townhall.com and occasional writer for Hot Air, RedState, and Townhall Magazine.
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