#Nobudgetnopay is more like #nobudgetdelayedpay

January 23, 2013

The debt-ceiling bill that House Republicans are expected to pass Wednesday is the first bill I've seen that's being officially sold with a hashtag: #nobudgetnopay. That refers to the provision meant to force Senate Democrats to pass a budget by withholding their pay if they don't.

There's a reason Senate Democrats don't see more afraid. (Mannie Garcia/Bloomberg News)
There's a reason Senate Democrats don't see more afraid. (Mannie Garcia/Bloomberg News)

But exciting as it is to see Twitter-speak invade the august halls of Congress, #nobudgetnopay is not actually an accurate description of the bill. It's more #nobudgetdelayedpay.

If you read the part of the bill that withholds pay, it says that "during the period described in paragraph (2) the payroll administrator of that House of Congress shall deposit in an escrow account all payments otherwise required to be made during such period."

Move along to "paragraph (2)," where "the period" is defined, and you'll find that the period ends either on "the day on which the House of Congress agrees to a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2014" or on "the last day of the One Hundred Thirteenth Congress."

Which is to say, even if Senate Democrats decided not to pass a budget, they'd still get paid, as it would just take until the last day of Congress. In part, that's likely because the 27th Amendment makes it clearly unconstitutional to pass a law denying members of Congress their pay mid-session, and might even make it unconstitutional to pass a law varying the schedule of their pay mid-session, which would, in turn, make this law unconstitutional.

Either way, this probably explains why Sen. Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, responded to a question about #nobudgetnopay by saying, simply, "Whatever."

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Business
Next Story
Dylan Matthews · January 23, 2013