Democratic House Rep Introduces Bill Which Would Block Pay for Congress During the Shutdown

ricknolanWhy should Congress get paid for not doing their job?  That’s the question Democratic Representative Rick Nolan from Minnesota is asking.  Nolan introduced a bill yesterday that would block members of Congress from being paid during the government shutdown.

The bill, titled “No Government, No Pay Act,” would prevent members of Congress from being paid as long as the government continues to be shut down.

Representative Nolan explained his proposal:

“The inability of this Congress to collaborate, compromise, and get things done has led me to introduce legislation to prohibit Members from being paid when failure to do their job results in a government shutdown.  It’s time for Congress to start living in the real world where you either do your job, or you don’t get paid.”

Sadly, the bill probably violates the 27th Amendment and doesn’t stand much chance at passing.  But even if it didn’t violate anything, I’m sure most members of Congress would soundly reject such a proposal.

Though this Republican-forced shutdown has put 800,000 workers on an unpaid furlough, those responsible for shutting the government down will continue to get their salaries paid to them in full.  Something I’m sure most Americans soundly reject.

It’s also unclear right now if those workers who are furloughed will receive backpay once the shutdown is over.  That will be left up to Congress to decide.

It’s quite ironic that Republicans are still being paid during the shutdown considering they recently voted to cut $39 billion from SNAP benefits.  Republicans often claim that there are too many Americans who simply refuse to work, instead deciding to live off government benefits.  Yet there Republicans are shutting down the government, refusing to do their jobs—and still being paid in full by the taxpayers.  Now to be fair, both sides are being paid in full — but this shutdown is the fault of Republicans, not Democrats or President Obama.

However, some lawmakers have pledged to donate their pay during the shutdown to charity.  Though I must stress that only a small percentage have agreed to do this.  Around 91 of the 535 members of Congress have agreed to it so far, and I sincerely hope that more follow their lead.

So while Nolan’s proposal probably won’t have any real chance at ever being passed, and might simply be unconstitutional, it does stress a point I think most Americans overwhelmingly agree with.

It’s insane that hundreds of thousands of government workers are forced to be furloughed by these childish antics, while those responsible for the shutdown are being paid in full.

And even though it’s largely symbolic, Nolan’s bill at least seems to represent the true feelings among most Americans.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Scott Bennett

    it doesn´t have to be unconstitutional. It could stipulate that all pay which would have gone to the Members of Congress will be paid into an escrow account, to be held until the government is again up and running. Thus, they will technically be paid, but will not have the cash right away – similar to what the furloughed workers are facing, should they get back-pay. And I for one think it´s a great idea.

    • Lorie Emerson

      Also, for it to be considered unconstitutional, it would have to be taken to court. The only people with standing to take it to court would be sitting congress members. I’d love to see which of them would be willing to do that.

    • Scott that is actually a great idea……I wish you were a congressman so you could tell them that!. LOL.

  • Kayla

    and the IOU’s for the government workers isnt? no paycheck for them isnt unconstitutional? tough shit and pass this bill!! see how many time this will be used when they cant agree to a compromise!

  • Will Johnson

    just explain to me, how much of a charity is it for them to donate their money to charity. They will use it as a deductible for tax year 2013. I am so full of anger I cannot even describe it, but will be an adult and don’t level myself to their lowest level.

  • Quan Dinh

    Bravo. This bill makes sense.

    • Tony Ramsey

      A similar bill has already passed in the Senate but the House has never even brought it to the floor.

  • Stinkelhammer

    Have a recall on every Republican that walked out.

    • Maureen Vaughn

      I couldn’t agree more they need to be recalled

    • CherMoe

      I think we need a LAW. This “recall” stuff takes SO LONG and is so very costly. We need a law whereas the people in Washington can be FIRED without lifetime pay and benefits without all the delays. If they refuse to do their job, they should be subjected to the same process Americans are put through by their bosses at private corporations. Insubordination … whammo! Fire their butts. Disrespect the President and try to incite violence in the country …. ban them from the country. Get rid of these lowlife people.

  • Борис Смыслов

    Ok, Obama rejected negotiations with GOP, Democrats rejected negotiations with GOP, Democrats blocked GOP-made bill which they rejected to negotiate, and the Government shut down is the fault of GOP, not Democrats or Obama, who was playing golf, while GOP struggled not being able to negotiate? I am sorry, but are you nuts?

    • TruthHurts

      We don’t negotiate with extortionists. The GOP BILL wanted to defund the ACA, Then delay the ACA, A LAW that was passed democratically and upheld by the Supreme Court. IF THE HOUSE WASNT PANDERING TO THE TEA PARTY , they would have sent a clean CR with no riders attached to fund the government it would have passed the senate , problem solved. So it IS the GOP’s fault for attaching ridiculous riders to the Bill. Btw they were only funding the government for 2 weeks in the bill that had no funding for the ACA. Who in their right mind would trash a law for 2 weeks of funding?

      • disqus_juTQrfSilr

        To call the house extortionists is just ridiculous. The job of any elected representative is to represent their constituents. Also if you think, they are extortionists, does that mean unions are too when they go on strike and force businesses to bend to their demands. Btw the original bill was 2 months of funding, which still better than anything the Senate has done, with Harry Reid in charge a budget has not been passed since 2006.

      • Tan

        Just like our government, the union used to be a good thing, until they got greedy and it became less about the people and more about the money.

    • Saucy McGee

      Affordable Health Care is now a LAW. There is nothing to negotiate. Republicans shut down the government and the law is still in effect. This was done for nothing and it IS the fault of the Republicans.

      • Борис Смыслов

        DOMA was a LAW too. Prop 8 in my home California IS the law as well. But Democrats did nothing about it, they just reject to enforce it. Now in my dear California the State’s Constitution is trampled by so-called Democrats. But this at least does not take away jobs and destroy businesses. I used to keep my savings in US dollars. With this President and this Senate I cannot afford this luxury anymore.
        Interestingly, GOP had some awesome proposals which’d have made very positive impact on the country economy and the life of common men. Among these was a proposal to limit malpractice actions to $250,000. It’d have dropped the cost of medical insurance greatly, because Insurance companies wouldn’t have had to rip off hospitals in order to cover lawsuits against them. And yeah, it’d have worked in federal jurisdiction only, but it’d have helped a lot common people. And their proposals for tax exempts for people who buy premiums? It was awesome! But no, United Socialistic States of America (USSA) must have a socialistic way to deal with it. You have no freedom to decide whether you want to buy a coverage. Democrats are smarter than you, they know your life better than you do yourself (thanks to NSA)? so take it and be grateful that we took your liberty for your benefit. Just awesome.

      • JennyB

        DOMA was ruled unconstitutional by the SCOTUS. ACA was ruled constitutional by SCOTUS. End of discussion.

      • Борис Смыслов

        You are deeply mistaken with regard to the government system of the USA according to the Constitution. So I’d agree. End of the discussion. I am not being paid to educate you.

    • Josy Coke

      This law has been passed for a while. Why should you negotiate a law that has already been signed. Should we negotiate the drinking age law? I mean, it’s a law, but with your logic, lets negotiate it anyhow.

      • disqus_juTQrfSilr

        Congress’ job is to legislate. Laws are changed all the time. At one time we had prohibition in this country, now we don’t. At one time the national speed limit on highways was 55mph, now it is up to the states. Simply put the government was purposely built this to prevent tyranny. The GOP has offered many different amendments and options to the senate and they have said no compromise our way or no way. Both parties are at fault for this and as usual the only ones getting screwed are the working class.

      • Josy Coke

        it’s really ironic you use the word tyranny to speak of the democrats, a majority of the republicans and President Obama. If you look into it, it’s a handful of republicans that are causing this problem. Most republican’s are in agreement with the majority. So, the tyranny you speak of is from the handful of terrorists that now sit in congress.

      • disqus_juTQrfSilr

        When I speak of tyranny, I do not care what party line you tow. Tyranny is when the will of the people is not followed. The founders wanted to make sure that power did not get centralized in a large federal government. Being forced to by a good or service for yourself is not freedom. Let me explain that better, everyone likes to use the auto insurance analogy. However auto insurance is required to protect the person who was not at fault for the accident. That is something I believe you can legislate. To say that in order to drive a vehicle I must have insurance to cover someone I hit them. That is also why I am against the seat belt law, that is my personal safety choice.

      • Zee

        The problem with your analysis is that the laws were changed properly. The legislation was written, it was taken to both the house and the senate for a vote and passed by the President. What seems to be happening is a back door legislation change. That is not right or appropriate. The ACA has already been debated and passed. They can change it through the right channels. One that doesn’t require the American people to be held hostage. If you get in a car accident and win, the other side appeals and you still win, and they appeal again to the highest court and you still win, is it okay for them to stalk you and threaten to burn your house down if you don’t negotiate a settlement with them? If so then that will be the standard set for America!

      • disqus_juTQrfSilr

        The correct channels is congress they are the legislators. Simply put if a law is found constitutional by the Supreme court the only ways to get rid of it are to change the law through congress either legislatively or constitutional amendment, or by the states calling for a constitutional convention. On your next point, saying the republicans are the only ones at fault is disingenious, the democrats are just as much holding hostage their refusal to even delay the rest of the law, that the president somehow magically believes he has thebpower to delay the parts he thinks should. The presidents job is to execute the laws of this country not ppickand choose the ones he likes. Lastly, people talking about holding the business of the government hostage better be arguing for the outlawing of unions, cause when they don’t get their way they hold companies hostage. Like the president said they should be happy to have a job and a paycheck. And no republican members of congress has stalked anybody, and they have not resorted to name calling and comparisons to jihad. If the democrat reps are ready for a serious debate without the vitriol, then bring it on.

      • Zee

        I gave an example of stalking, I did not say they were stalking. It’s called an analogy. But months and months of trying to get a bill repealed then taking it to the Supreme Court and not winning …and then still trying to negotiate? That is not how the government works or should work. Come up with a better plan and put that to a vote is what they ALL need to do. And I never said that the Republicans are fully responsible. I am a disabled Iraqi war veteran. I rely on the income that came from my blood (and all my comrades in arms), sweat, and tears, to pay my bills and take care of my family. So while we can debate this all day, BOTH parties need to get their acts together, follow proper procedure, and leave their egos at the door because this is not effecting them in any way except for their numbers at the upcoming polls! We need grown-ups, on both sides, in the WH. My suggestion, let the ACA go …for now… and move this country forward. If it sucks, guess who will look bad? It’s like giving someone enough rope to hang themselves with (I am not in any way saying someone is or should hang themselves). The rope has already been given to the President and the Dem party. If the plan is proven to be bad, then the party will be hung. Plain and simple. I think we can both agree that they all just need to get along!

      • disqus_juTQrfSilr

        I think we both agree our debate xould go on forever, and I thank you the civil spirited debate. (Wish we could congress to do the same) I also wanted to thank you for your service to our country, may the people and the government always remember the sacrifices of those who serve and come running to their aid when they need it.

      • Bruce Darling

        Then by your reasoning, Congress and all Americans should have embraced the Volstead Act (Prohibition) because it was a law?

    • Mary

      I believe it became the GOP’s fault when THEY said they would shut down the government. They said they were going to do it and then they did, now they don’t want the accountability.

      • Борис Смыслов

        It’s not like that. Governmental shutdown was a consequence of Senate’s blocking of the Budget proposed by the GOP.

  • Favpapa

    finally an intelligent proposal.

  • Sis Smith

    it’s not like it would be the only amendment gone against.they have gone against the working ,lower and middle class people what is good for the goose is good for the gander.why should the lying ass thieving government be any different than any other working american.that makes a lot
    less money,and has more bills to pay to survive…if they don’t do their job,better not take any taxes out of my next pay check.

  • Paisley Blackburn

    It’s time for a new revolution if you ask me.

    • DiAnna DeFur

      I agree Paisley, this is why we came to the USA from England, the King believed he was God, well…our government truly believes they are Gods, so it’s time to show them they are not!

  • Joanna Kelley

    I wrote a thoughtful email to Florida Senator Marco Rubio discussing my dismay at this current situation and the response I received was that Senator Marco Rubio could not respond to my email because his office had been shutdown. Seriously. This is the response I got from our Senator. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the absolute absurdity of his response. However, if Senator Rubio and his cohorts cannot do their jobs, then they most definitely should NOT be getting paid. I would also heartily support the suspension of all healthcare benefits until these prima donnas get their acts together and actually start to serve their electorate.

  • louis

    how fucked up is it that congress gets to vote n a bill about congress? our nation is an embarrassment. i am ashamed to be one nowadays. to think of all the people that support the tea party, is they are patriots and real americans, consider me a lost canadian.

    • Jaye

      I AM a Canadian living in the US (married to a now retired Navy man..who happens to be a federal worker now..ugh) and I am GLAD to be able to say at this point that “I am a Canadian” 🙂

  • Eric Bell

    Never mind the debate on 2nd amendment rights or gun rights, I think that if we focus on repealing or modifying the 27th amendment. If that can be done, the next time that congress starts to consider that they want to shut down the government, they will have to think a little more about what that actually does. There are too many people in congress that think that they are “privileged” or “untouchable” with their hair brain decision making processes. We are seeing the inability to relate to the American people because of this. Long story short, we need to take our country back and MAKE CONGRESS DO THEIR JOBS and make them KEEP doing their jobs so that this does not happen again!

    • disqus_juTQrfSilr

      You would not want to repeal the 27th amendment. This amendment prohibits congress from voting themselves raises that take affect during their current term. Most people don’t know this, but it was 1 of the original amendments submitted to be a part of the bill of rights.

      • Adam McKinney Souza

        Maybe an amendment to the amendment that says that if their approval rating gets to a certain level, they start losing (or gaining, if it goes up) pay? So they get giant tips for good service, but no tips for bad, like waiters.

  • Al Collins

    You lie!! GOP has sent three funding plans to the senate!! Democrats chose yo shut down the government!! The American people don’t believe you anymore!!

    • Alex Knight

      Why would the Democrats negotiate? The ACA was a law passed by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court. The GOP has tried to repeal it dozens of times and failed. This is not negotiation, this is holding the government hostage because they didn’t get their way. There’s nothing to negotiate. (And I would say the same thing if the Democrats were doing the same thing over gun control for example. But they aren’t. The GOP is. And they need to give this up this silly game.)

      • Tony Ramsey

        41 times to be more precise.The House was also asked 18 times this year to enter into conference resolutions and only now agreed to after the cause was already lost.

      • disqus_juTQrfSilr

        Gee. Sounds like something a union would do. And laws are always up for changes. That is why they are the legislative branch. No if the executive branch would execute all the laws, instead of just the one he likes the real problems and costs of this law would be felt.

  • Arturo Jacobo Saiz

    How does this Bill violate the 21st Amendment? It doesn’t increase or decrease their pay. Care to explain?

    • Tony Ramsey

      27th Amendment. They can pass no legislation affecting their pay until the next term. Which basically means that they can pass it now but it will not go into effect until after the mid-term election. It stops them from voting themselves a pay raise.

      • Arturo Jacobo Saiz


  • silady

    If they’re so worried about this bill being unconstitutional, let me point out that the TSA and Obamacare are both in violation of the constitution as well. The President, Senate, and Congress are not above the law, and in order for a law to be legal and constitutional THEY MUST abide by it as well. They have exempted themselves from the law making the law illegal and the makers are traitors. Also, the shut down is the result of the Democrats unwillingness to negotiate and their run away spending. We can’t just keep raising the debt ceiling to feed the greed. We need to cut spending from the bloated government. Stop adding to the debt, and pay it off. When the Democrats finally realize that currency is finite, and that they can’t just keep printing more money without backing, maybe we will be able to fix this. BTW, I’m not a republican. I, in fact, was a Democrat until they lost their minds and went Socialist. Now… I’m just a pissed off constitutionalist.

    • TheGermanGuy

      Wow, the age-old argument. “I’m not a _____, I just think exactly like their opponents.” It doesn’t work with religion, it doesn’t work in arguments of wealth, and it won’t work with politics. All it does is show how much of a cry-baby you are.

      • silady

        Or, maybe I’m not crying, Maybe I’m pissed. And I happen to be pissed at both sides. They’re both a bunch of traitors. I don’t fit into or think like either group. And no one has to choose sides to see the wrong in what they are doing. I just don’t like how the democrats are trying to blame the republicans for this mess when they are both equally culpable. I’m tired of the hypocrisy of them saying that we have to do what they say but they don’t. That’s not Democratic, Republican, or American in any way. That’s Tyranny plain and simple. You just don’t like that I’ve got the guts to call a traitor a traitor. Our Democratic Republic is turning into corporate communist state right under our noses and all the sheeple out there do is go “BAAAAAA gimmie more hand-outs. BAAAAA protect me from the big bad wolf…. Baaaaa Take away my rights, i don’t care, just keep me safe from the bogey man!”

        Well, I’m sick of it.

        If you’re not sick of it, you’re either a sheep or a schill. Which is it?

        I said I’m not a Republican because I’m not. Nor am I a Democrat. I won’t be affiliated with either of those bogus parties while they destroy everything that ever made America great. Deal with it, troll.

      • Susan

        Oh, dear, where to start? First, the biggest waste of Americans’ tax dollars goes to the bloated and wasteful military budget. that budget goes not to the hard working servicemen and women, but to fraudulent contractors, who charge $100 for a $20 hammer, and up. Figure in the cost of obsolete equipment that Congress keeps buying for the military, that doesn’t ASK for that equipment, but the contractors have bought the war-mongering Republicans, so that they will buy their useless equipment.
        Second, figure in Corporate Welfare, which wastes $1000.00 to every $1.00 in “social services”. We hand out hundreds of thousands of dollars to corporations, who give that money to their executives as “bonuses”, not to the working stiffs at the bottom of their pay scale, who then, in turn, require “social services” just to feed their families. The Republicans initiate the Corporate Welfare, and then bully the few honest Congresswomen and men, into voting for their policies. Notice I didn’t say honest Democrats. There are a few honest folks on both sides of the aisle, buried under the noise and fuss of the corporate shills.
        Take away those two welfare programs, and we could fund hundreds and thousands more for social services, without diminishing the budget, but seriously diminishing the DEBT.

    • CherMoe

      Wasn’t it a violation, then, when Mitt Romney shoved the same health care laws on the people of his state when he was governor?

      Sorry, but you can’t keep up the same old crap about Democrats “unwilling” to negotiate. They raised the debt ceiling 18 or 19 times FOR BUSH. What’s the big deal now? This deficit is LARGELY the bills ran up by Bush for the 2 illegal wars AND the Republican TAX CUTS. And bailouts to try to save the country from financial devastation left by Bush. NOW Republicans WANT TO DEFAULT ON THEIR DEBTS. The “bloated government” became bloated after Bush took a surplus, blew through it, and continued spending like a DRUNKEN SAILOR. You’re a “constitutionalist” like Bush was .. and he thought it was not worth much more than toilet paper … “nothing but a G-D piece of paper” I believe he called it.

      Take responsibility for your party’s actions and their greed, will ya? Be an adult and face the music when you’re wrong. Get a heart.

    • Larry

      We did not have this debt when Bush took office and now because of his bullish ways we are in debt. Wasn’t he a republican if I remember right. We have spent billions of dollars on that stinking war. I am sure if we had that money back we would not be in the shape this country is in. I think we need a health care system that everyone can agree with. But you can not put the blame on the democratic party. And my heart is with them veterans and there family’s that have gave there life. And now they are not being paid. My heart is broke and saddened. Why because of politics.

  • odie91

    The Tea Party Republicans who are basically behind this shutdown are such arrogant troublemakers! I never in my lifetime thought I’d see such nonsense, particularly by supposedly educated people! California periodically has done the same thing and I never could figure out why they got paid for not doing their jobs when ordinary people like you and I would have gotten fired. It’s so sad that they are so out of touch with reality that they think only of the “unfortunate” people that won’t get to see Yellowstone, the Statue of Liberty, etc. instead of the millions of families that won’t eat, pay their rent, etc. Shameful!

  • William F Ellington

    wont can cut off the congressmen unless you cut off everyone

  • Joe Collier

    I just hope that every Republican is voted out of office. You don’t do your job and are paid way too much for what you do.

    • disqus_juTQrfSilr

      I wish the same for every incumbent democrat too. Way too many of our representatives have been in washington way too long. I tired of both sides thinking they know what is best for us.

  • ObamacareWebsiteIsDefunct

    Re: “No Government, No Pay Act”…This is a furlough, not a raise or lowering of salary, so the 27th amendment doesn’t apply! As their employers, if we can’t fire them for refusing to do their job, we should at least be able to lay them off for bad behavior at work! We need to start acting more like employers and less like sheep.

  • ObamacareWebsiteIsDefunct

    This is their way of defunding the Affordable Care Act. When I’ve tried to sign up, I only get a waiting page, then error code. Nobody answers the phone number. It’s not just me, they showed this on MSNBC!