House Republicans have decided to pass on a stand-off against the White House and Democratic Senate on the looming national debt limit fight, choosing instead to insist upon an unconstitutional measure denying senators federal pay until the Senate passes a budget. “We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government’s spending problem,” House Speaker John Boehner said January 18. “The principle is simple: no budget, no pay.”
But overall, House Republicans have decided they will not make raising the national debt a major fight. According to the Washington, D.C.-based newspaper Roll Call, Republicans have all but given up their constitutional authority to rein in federal spending, choosing instead to “compromise” with Capitol Hill liberals. “Despite a new feeling of unity, Republican demands for raising the debt ceiling have been scaled back after a concerted push by several leading lawmakers, such as Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, to inject a sense of reality into what the rank and file could reasonably hope to accomplish as they battle a Democratic president and Senate over the next two years.”
The U.S. Senate has not passed a budget since 2009, but impounding the pay of senators is a clear violation of the 27th amendment, which 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.
The 27th amendment was originally drafted by James Madison in 1789 and passed by Congress as part of the original Bill of Rights, but the states did not ratify it until 1992.
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Photo of west front of U.S. Capitol