Forcing action on a budget

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By Congressman Bob Goodlatte

If you failed to do your job, you probably would not receive a paycheck. The same should go for Congress. The House and Senate are required by law to pass a budget plan each year. While the House has passed budgets, it has been nearly four years since the Senate has done their job and acted on this basic responsibility.


In the almost 1,400 days since the Senate last passed a budget you could construct the entire Keystone XL pipeline twice. Or take 179 roundtrips to the moon. As we continue to rack up trillion dollar budget deficits, just a few months ago Democratic leadership in the Senate went as far as to say that they could not commit to passing a budget this year. The president isn’t exactly leading by example on budgeting either. For the fourth time in five years, President Obama has failed to submit his budget by the required deadline of the first Monday in February. American families and businesses adhere to a budget each and every year, but the Senate refuses to operate by the same standards. That is unacceptable.


A sluggish economy and massive debt are not the future the next generation should face. Over the past two weeks the House has passed two common sense bills to help hold lawmakers and the president accountable for the budget process. The first, the No Budget, No Pay Act, is a simple concept. If the House does not pass a budget by April 15th, Members will not get paid. The same goes for the Senate if they fail to act. The American people overwhelmingly support this requirement. A recent poll found that 72 percent back House Republicans on the No Budget, No Pay principle. The legislation also suspended the debt limit for three months to give the Senate time to draft a budget.


By also passing a measure forcing them to act or forfeit a paycheck, it seems that the Senate finally understands that there must be a budget. Ending this irresponsible record is a first step in implementing a budget that will lead to fiscal sustainability. In order to get the president on the same page, the House also passed the Require a Plan Act, which requires the White House to produce a balanced budget. As a longtime sponsor of the balanced budget amendment, I support this requirement that will make the president take the government’s spending addiction seriously. If the president plans to submit his budget late this year, he could use this extra time to ensure that it is balanced when it is submitted.


I remain committed to balancing the budget and getting our country back on track.  It’s time that the Senate and the president join in this effort. A budget that lays out a responsible fiscal path for our nation is critical to lessening the burden of debt.