Daniel Culicover asks via e-mail:
If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, do you think that paychecks to Congressional Representatives and Senators would still go out?
If, as Binyamin Appelbaum reported this morning, the Treasury just pays bills in the order they are due, members of Congress will keep getting paid. House members get paid monthly, with the next checks going out Aug. 1, so unless the debt limit is not increased by Sept. 1, their pay will not be affected. According to the secretary of the Senate’s office, people on the Senate payroll, including senators themselves, receive paychecks on the 5th and the 20th of every month. If estimates that the U.S. will have enough tax revenue to pay all bills through Aug. 8 or 10 are correct, that means the Aug. 5 paycheck will go out.
But if the Treasury decides to pick and choose between payments instead of just paying bills in order, it seems plausible that congressional salaries would go unpaid. Indeed, a bill proposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer that would withhold congressional salaries during government shutdowns or when the debt ceiling is reached was approved unanimously by the Senate in March. It hasn’t passed the House, but it does indicate that there would likely be widespread support for withholding congressional pay. Rep. Jim Cooper introduced a similar bill the other day that would prohibit members of Congress from receiving pay during a default, and from later recouping the pay they lost during a default.