“April 1, 2011
WASHINGTON – Congressman John Kline supported the “Government Shutdown Prevention Act” which passed the U.S. House of Representatives today. The legislation would forbid salary payments to be disbursed to Members of Congress or the President during a federal government shutdown.
“American taxpayers shouldn’t be left on the hook funding the payroll of the President or members of Congress during a federal government shutdown,” said Kline.
Semantics and spin presents this statement as Mr. Kline opposing any member of Congress and the President getting paid if there is a federal government shutdown … but read it carefully … “ during a federal government shutdown.”
The legislation that Mr. Kline is referring to is HR 1255 -“Government Shutdown Prevention Act”. While the legislation may be called the “Government Shutdown Prevention Act”, it’s real intention is to “Deem and Pass” HR 1 -Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 if the Senate does not act by April 6th. The legislation was froth with questions of constitutionality as well as if it adhered to the principles of the Pillars of a New Majority .
Read that discussion on the MN Political Roundtable.
The current salary (2011) for rank-and-file members of the House is $174,000 per year … it’s an annual salary … it’s not a daily or hourly rate … which is why they get paid when they are on “official breaks” when they are campaigning … heck, even if they are ignoring debate invitations while being busy campaigning for other candidates.
The US Senate has already addressed the question of retroactive pay by unanimously approving S 388
(b) Retroactive Pay Prohibited- No pay forfeited in accordance with subsection (a) may be paid retroactively.
But the House has not addressed the question of retroactive pay … in fact, Mr. Kline doesn’t mention that he actually voted against an amendment that would deny retroactive payment of lost wages … that’s a big difference … somehow, I don’t think that neither Mr. Kline nor any member of Congress is going hungry if there is a federal government shutdown … heck, Mr. Kline is accustomed to having lobbyists hosting banquets in his honor.
The amendment that Mr. Kline voted against was offered by Minnesota’s First District Congressman Tim Walz.
Tim Walz speech was concise and succinct. Here are the key comments :
We have an opportunity. The American people did send us here, as you heard on both sides of the aisle, to do a very simple thing--to get the work done and move this country forward. The debate is that there are differences in how to do that. That's the strength of this land. It's democracy. But there is one very strong principle that we can reinforce, that work ethic, that if you do not get your job done, you certainly should not be paid. No middle of the night, no if it passes and goes this way. Very simply, the easiest of things to do: If this Congress after being here 4 months--and I don't care where you put the blame--can't get this done by next week and the government shuts down, there will be no chance of a single paycheck going and no retroactive pay. That's the least we owe those hardworking folks. That's the least that we can do here.
I want to be very clear. I understand the majority is having a problem. They've got a debate happening inside their caucus if compromise is a virtue or a vice. They will work that out and decide, because that's what this debate today was about: Where do we compromise for the good of the American public? I come down on the side of compromise.
But with that being said, if we don't get our work done--and I will do everything in my power to ensure we do not shut this government down--the repercussions are catastrophic for Americans, and not just macroeconomically. Our seniors aren't going to get their checks. We're going to see medical care slowed down to our veterans. We're going to hear from and we have heard from our military commanders that it stresses the readiness of this nation. Our Federal workers and even the hardworking staff here will not receive a paycheck.
How do you go home, to Georgia, to Alabama, to Minnesota, look somebody in the eye and say, We failed because we bickered again but, dang, I'm going to take home that check.
So I tell my colleagues, especially the new Members, if you're a freshman in here, you came with an optimism that should not be able to be beaten out of you. Regardless if you disagree with us with every fiber of your being, the very simple principle that if we can't get this done, let's put skin in the game.
I offer you the rarest of opportunities today, the first time you've had this chance. If you vote ``yes'' on this motion to recommit, it goes to the President today and becomes law of the land, and no one here will be paid. You can look your constituents in the eye and whoever you blame for it, you can say, I'm not getting a paycheck till we fix this.
So I want to be very clear. This is an opportunity, a rare opportunity. You can vote however you want and decide however you want to balance the budget, but do not allow to play games. It is the bright lights of day, the board is going to come up, and you're going to have the opportunity. Not what's in the underlying bill. That doesn't stop from retroactive pay. And that has to pass the Senate. Mitch McConnell and every Republican already voted for my motion to recommit. So you have the chance to say, all right, I disagree with the Democrats on everything in this bill, but I'm not going to go back to Georgia and tell someone I'm picking up a paycheck and then trying to explain, but I voted for it really, but it was a motion to recommit that I didn't agree with and all of this. Nothing. Simple. Seventy-five words. Half page. Don't do your job, don't get paid. No work, no pay. It is very, very simple.
I do not agree with Congressman Walz on every issue … nor on every one of his votes, but on this issue, there should be no debate … Congressman Walz is showing leadership that is sorely missing in Washington.
While it was noteworthy that Mr. Kline awarded his staff very generous bonuses last year, it should be mentioned that Congressman Walz has voluntarily donated Congressional pay raises back to the US Treasury.
The Republicans rule the House … they set the rules including what bills committees hear and what bills get votes, so it is a tragedy that the House Republicans (with the exception of Ron Paul (R-TX-14)) have not advanced Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ-08) legislation … HR 204 Congressional Pay Cut Act. “We are living in tough economic times,” said Congresswoman Giffords. “Everyone is being forced to make sacrifices. Members of Congress can’t ask any American to cut back before we are willing to make some sacrifices of our own. I’m prepared to do that and I want my colleagues to join me. Members of Congress must set an example and there’s no better way to do that than by cutting our own salaries.”
Cutting the salaries of members of Congress is supported by numerous taxpayer groups, like Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens Against Government Waste and the National Taxpayers Union.
Two days after authoring HR 204, Congresswoman Giffords was shot at a “Congress on the Corner” event and has not been available to promote the legislation … shouldn’t the Republican leadership address her bill … instead the Republican leadership wastes precious time (that could otherwise be used to negotiate with the Senate and White House in an effort to keep Government operating) by pushing “Government Shutdown Prevention Act” legislation that even the GOP statement acknowledges that it is not likely to be enacted into law “As with any law, the provisions of H.R. 1255 would only take effect if the bill were approved by the Senate and signed by the president.”
Mr. Kline’s press release typifies a “DoNothing Congress" … that increasling is becoming more expensive and ineffective.