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Originally published Monday, January 28, 2013 at 4:01 PM

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Editorial: ‘No budget, no pay’ — a gimmick that might work

When members of Congress fail to comply with their basic duty to set a budget, their pay should be withheld. It’s a gimmick that might force compromise in Washington, D.C.

Seattle Times Editorial

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Personally, no pension credit for years served without a balanced budget. MORE
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AMERICANS are fed up with Congress.

Just a couple weeks into the new congressional term, disapproval ratings for both chambers have reached a high of 82 percent.

For years now, lawmakers have been mired in bitterly divisive politics. They’ve also failed to fulfill their basic job of setting and balancing the nation’s pocketbook.

Would we tolerate our state lawmakers leaving Olympia without setting a proper budget? Never. Why should Congress get a pass?

Last week, the House adopted a plan to increase the debt limit for three months. HR 325 also requires both chambers to set a budget by April 15 or its members will not get paid.

The measure had bipartisan support — 43 percent of Democrats voted for it, including all three new Democratic members of Washington’s congressional delegation, Suzan DelBene, Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck. Also voting yes were Washington’s GOP Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Doc Hastings and Dave Reichert.

Sure, the “no budget, no pay” provision is a gimmick.

But what else can be done?

Setting such a low bar speaks to the high level of frustration the American people feel toward their elected officials.

The No Labels movement — a bipartisan, grass-roots network comprising thousands of politicos and citizens dedicated to problem-solving over party loyalty — has pushed for the No Budget No Pay Act since 2011.

Congress has a long-standing tradition of passing spending bills late, if at all. The Senate hasn’t passed a budget since 2009. Instead, lawmakers have relied on temporary spending measures.

They’ve kicked the can down the road long enough.

Washington’s senior senator, Democrat Patty Murray, is the new chair of the Senate Budget Committee. She pledges to pass a budget this year that can be compared with the House GOP’s plan.

That’s a start.

Murray has signaled the era of brinkmanship is coming to an end.

We hope she’s right.

If not, then “no budget, no pay” should take effect.

Congress should do its job.

Or be ready to make some personal financial sacrifices.


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