Senator Scott proposes members of Congress go unpaid during shutdown
TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Sen. Rick Scott isn't wasting time taking aim at his own colleagues, co-sponsoring a bill that would force lawmakers to forego their paychecks during a government shutdown.
Scott, a Florida Republican, and 11 other U.S. senators proposed the No Budget, No Pay Act. The legislation is an attempt by lawmakers to provide more incentive to agree on a new budget and avoid shutdowns, such as the current one, which is the longest over.
"If other people aren't getting paid -- Coast Guard is not getting paid or other federal workers are not getting paid, we're impacting our economy -- why would congress-men and women and senators get paid?" Scott asked during a news conference. "I think it's very important that we are subject to the same rules as everybody else and if you can't pass the budget, you shouldn't get paid."
There is a partner bill proposed in the House; both have bi-partisan support.
FOX 13 Political Editor Craig Patrick, however, said it's unlikely a bill like this would pass for several reasons.
The proposal does not appear to address what would happen if lawmakers were to pass a continuing resolution to extend the current budget, as is often the case, rather than pass a new one.
"What if the choice is a continuing resolution for what you currently have? So the choice is a continuing resolution at current spending levels or a budget that you think is terrible?" Craig asked. "You either keep things the same and not get paid or you pass a budget you think is terrible and get paid. It might give faulty incentives to federal lawmakers to pass something that they think is no good in their own personal interests."
Craig said it's no secret it's in the best interests of lawmakers to pay themselves.
Beyond that, Congress would also run the risk of putting Washington solely in the hands of wealthy men and women who can afford to go without pay for an extended period of time.
"You would put people in position of not getting paid. Who could afford then to serve in Congress?" Craig said. "You would take working-class people out of the mix and then effectively cede control of Congress fully to millionaires and billionaires."
Voters in the Tampa Bay area who spoke with FOX 13 overwhelmingly agreed with Scott's proposal.
"I think it's a great idea that the Senate and the House should be culpable as with everybody else that's affected," said Ed Chrzanowski. "It's frustrating and it's a shame that it's the working people that are getting impacted, not the people at the top who are pulling the strings."
"The principle of it is, if other people aren't getting paid and you're really the reason -- you're all fighting and can't get it together -- then yeah, you should not be getting paid," said Stacie Linton.
The No Budget, No Pay Act would also prevent back pay to lawmakers.
So far, more than 70 members of Congress have said they will voluntarily forego their paychecks during the partial government shutdown.