‘‘I don’t know that it’s really fair to members that do not have significant means and have no control over whether a budget is brought to the floor or not,’’ said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who noted she fits into that category. ‘‘Having said that, if this works it will have been shown to be a good technique.’’
It also has the potential to give wealthier members an advantage during budget debates because it would make it easier them to refuse to go along with a budget they don’t like or make greater demands during the course of budget debates in exchange for their vote.
Then there’s the question of constitutionality.
The 27th Amendment to the Constitution states that no law ‘‘varying the compensation’’ of members of Congress can take effect until an election has passed.
To deal with that problem, the measure doesn’t deny pay. Rather, it withholds the salaries of members hit by ‘‘no budget, no pay,’’ and would release the money on the last day of the congressional term in January of 2015.
Some legal scholars say that approach is in sufficient.
‘‘Receiving $1,000 today is obviously worth more than receiving that same dollar amount at some time in the future,’’ said Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe. ‘‘It follows that ‘varying’ the timing of compensation is just another way of ‘varying the compensation itself,’ which is what the 27th Amendment expressly forbids.’’
One of the ironies is that it’s seems House Republicans driving ‘‘no budget, no pay’’ probably will struggle much more than Senate Democrats to pass it. Boehner is promising that, unlike two earlier GOP budgets, this one will come to balance by the end of the decade, which could force Republicans to cut Medicare much more deeply than they have sought to do in the past.
Congressional budget resolutions are nonbinding measures that usually sound more important than they really are. Often they’re not followed up with binding legislation. While the House has passed budget plans, it failed last year to address several important pieces of bipartisan legislation that passed the Senate.
‘‘As I recall, we passed a farm bill last year ... and they never found time to vote on it,’’ said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. ‘‘We passed the Violence Against Women Act; they never found time to vote on it. I think they maybe ought to demonstrate they’re willing to vote before they tell us how to vote.’’