Published January 19, 2013
House Republicans might run into a snag in trying to suspend congressional pay as a way to nudge budget negotiations along: the U.S. Constitution.
As part of a proposal to raise the debt limit for three months, the House GOP would suspend pay for members of Congress unless both the House and the Senate pass a budget blueprint for the next fiscal year.
The measure plays to public disaffection with Congress, which has been locked in a bitter spending battle, and appeals to the small-government wing of the Republican Party, which doesn’t like government spending to begin with. It is also a dig at Senate Democrats, who have gone for years without adopting a budget plan.
The problem is that immediately withholding pay from lawmakers may be unconstitutional. The 27th amendment states no law changing compensation for members of the House or the Senate can take effect until after the next House election. That means a law, even if it were to clear the Democratic-controlled Senate, which is a long shot, could not be used to withhold pay for almost two years.
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