NASHVILLE — Frustrated over Congress’ failure to pass the annual federal spending plan on time, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander on Monday threw his support to legislation that will halt lawmakers’ paychecks in the future for failing to meet the deadline.
The Tennessee Republican said he will co-sponsor the Senate version of the No Budget, No Pay Act, a measure spearheaded in the House by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.
The legislation punishes lawmakers by cutting off their paychecks after Oct. 1 if they have not passed a budget resolution and the 12 spending bills that fund it. The federal fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
Lawmakers on Saturday only passed a six-month extension and will return after the Nov. 6 election for a lame-duck session to settle differences between the Democratic Senate and Republican House.
“You wouldn’t get paid at the Grand Ole Opry if you showed up late and refused to sing,” Alexander told reporters during a conference call. “The same should apply to members of Congress who don’t do their jobs.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., is already a co-sponsor of the bill. Alexander said he had been hoping senators would do their jobs, but instead they are “sitting on their hands.”
In addition to Cooper, House sponsors include Tennessee Republicans Scott DesJarlais, Marsha Blackburn, Diane Black and Phil Roe.
If the no-pay bill passes, future members of Congress would not get paid after busting the Oct. 1 deadline until they passed the budget and appropriations bills. There would be no back pay.
Alexander sought to put much of the blame for inaction on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat. But he also noted that “I am sure there is responsiblity on both sides of the aisle.”
Most members of Congress are paid $174,000 annually, with leaders getting more.
“I am going to do everything possible to make it become law,” Alexander said.