Tea Party Freshman: Cut Funding for Congressional Leaders Who Shirk Budget Duties

A freshman Tea Partier in Congress is championing a bill that calls for removing funding for committees and party leaders who fail to produce and pass budgets.

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-N.Y. unveiled the legislation last week and says that it is mainly aimed at the Democratic-led Senate, which has not passed an annual budget in two years. But it could raise hackles among Republican and Democratic chairmen who like to stonewall for political advantage.

"This legislation provides a solution to this dereliction of duty by cutting funding for operations that cannot or refuses to comply with the law," she said in a written statement. "It is a way to ensure that we are in compliance with the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, and in our responsibility to the American people.

"Even the Libyan government, in the middle of a civil war, passed a budget on June 15."

Not only does Buerkle's bill prohibit any further funding for either the House or Senate Budget Committee if a budget has not been passed but it also rescinds $1 million in appropriations for the office of the majority leader of either chamber.

"Sen. Harry Reid is paid by the American people to follow the law and pass a budget," she said. "If he can't do that, he should give those resources back to the people and stop wasting their money."

Reid's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The GOP-led House passed a budget in April that would cut federal deficits by $6.2 trillion over the next decade while overhauling Medicare and Medicaid. Democrats have pounced on the proposed Medicare changes -- which would transform the program from one in which the government directly pays medical bills into a voucher-like system that subsidizes purchases of private insurance plans. But Republicans have fired back, seeking to cast Democrats as irresponsible for not passing their own budget in the Senate.

Reid and Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, have said they're waiting for deficit reduction talks led by the White House to conclude before producing a budget. The talks are currently at an impasse after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz, pulled out last week, saying that President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner would have to close the deal.

The negotiators are aiming to finish talks in advance of an Aug. 2 deadline when the federal government's ability to borrow must be increased or risk a default for the first time.

Both senators have said that Vice President Biden, who had been leading the talks, could need a legislative vehicle for any compromise product, a measure that would enjoy procedural protections in the Senate.