Senators Sponsor Bills to Stop Congress Pay During Government Shutdown

Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Steve Daines of Montana co-sponsored an act Wednesday that would halt the pay of Congress during a government shutdown. Another senator proposed not only stopping the pay of Congress, but not allowing any backpay accrued during a shutdown.

The United States went into a partial government shutdown nearly three weeks ago, and some of the 800,000 government employees affected have continued working, not knowing if they'll even get paid.

Now, these senators, along with other lawmakers, have acted to establish a law that says Congress can't get paid until they work out a deal to reopen the government.

Cornyn tweeted a message Wednesday night saying they should forego their own paychecks until the current shutdown — entering its 20th day on Thursday — is resolved.

"Pleased to join my friend Senator Steve Daines of Montana and cosponsor his "No Government No Pay Act of 2019." Congress shouldn't get paychecks during a shutdown while honorable federal government employees are denied theirs for no good reason."

Pleased to join my friend Senator Steve Daines of Montana and cosponsor his “No Government No Pay Act of 2019.” Congress shouldn’t get paychecks during a shutdown while honorable federal government employees are denied theirs for no good reason.

— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) January 10, 2019

The government went into partial shutdown mode at midnight Eastern Time on Dec. 21 after Republican and Democrat lawmakers in Washington hit a budget stalemate over President Donald Trump's request for $5.7 billion to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats have since proposed a budget that didn't include funding for a wall, which the president refused to sign.

With the shutdown heading towards three weeks, engulfing the new calendar year and creeping into tax season, many government employees have been left wondering how to pay their bills. It has affected Homeland Security, the United States Coast Guard, national parks, national museums and even has folks trying to figure out if they'll get their tax returns.

Immediately after the shutdown in late 2018, newly-elected New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Congress shouldn't get paid while so many blue-collar federal employees go without paychecks. Many Republicans agreed with her.

Senators Cornyn and Daines aren't the only lawmakers who have introduced such measures.

Republican Rep. John Curtis of Utah introduced H.R. 26 — the "No Work, No Pay Act of 2019" on Tuesday.

"The American people expect Congress to do its most basic job: pass a budget and fund the government. If we can't, then we shouldn't get paid," Curtis said in this report by Fox 13 in Salt Lake City. "Washington should take note of states like Utah that do it right. Not only does the Utah Legislature pass a baseline budget at the beginning of each legislative session to avoid any state government shutdown threats, but they also responsibly balance the state's budget every year."

Mike Braun, a freshman Republican senator from Indiana, told the Indianapolis Star "there are consequences for unfinished work in the business world," therefore introducing "No Budget, No Pay" legislation, which would also prohibit lawmakers from getting back pay once a budget is passed.

"In the private sector, folks roll up their sleeves and get to work on day one, and that's exactly what we're doing by introducing No Budget, No Pay legislation," Braun said in a statement to IndyStar. "There are consequences for unfinished work in the business world, and considering it's Congress's job to pass budgets and spending bills, it's time we hold Washington to the same standard."

Braun's bill, the first of his senatorial career, was co-authored by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.

Similar proposals have been made, like the Government Shutdown Accountability and Economic Report Act, introduced by Arizona Democrat Rep. Tom O'Halleran in 2017. That bill, like many others before it, failed to pass both the House and Senate.

Then there's the 27th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bars Congress from passing any laws that affect their pay during the current term, which ends a year from now.

The 27th Amendment reads: "No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened."