WASHINGTON -- By now, you have probably heard the GOP proposal: The House of Representatives will not stand in the way of a debt-limit hike, allowing the federal government to operate without fear of default or shutdown until at least May 18.
But Republicans want something in return, namely, passage of a budget by both houses of Congress by April 15. If either the House or Senate failed to pass one, paychecks for that chamber's members would be withheld. The lawmakers would only get the lost pay at end of 2014.
The House passed its "no budget, no pay" act this afternoon. The Senate is expected to do so soon.
To the surprise of some, Congress is not normally required to pass a budget, and the Senate has not passed one since 2009. Invoices still get paid and government programs still get funded. While a budget can serve as a guideline and set priorities for spending, Congress uses a different set of processes to determine how much money can and will actually be spent.
The GOP says that's reckless, like making up moral rules without any broader code. It also allows lawmakers to escape blame if more money is spent (and borrowed) than budgeted. Thus, the budget-or-no-pay proposal, which the House passed with a 285-144 votes.
But why stop there?
Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat who said "I'm fine with that" about the budget/pay proposal, today offered a few other ideas that could be linked to pay.
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