ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:
With a government shutdown possible if Congress does not extend federal funding by March 4 or raise the nation’s debt ceiling later this spring, two Democratic senators today said lawmakers – and the president – should not be paid if a shutdown occurs.
It’s the old “hit them where it hurts” approach: if Republicans won’t take the option of a shutdown off the table as the fight over spending continues in Congress, Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, and Bob Casey, D-PA, hope that the prospect of losing their paychecks will make them change their minds.
“We should feel the pain,” Boxer said at a press conference this morning on Capitol Hill. “And we hope that this is such a simple piece of legislation and so fair that it’ll make people think, ‘Gee, maybe I ought to work a little harder at compromising and finding that common ground.’”
“The point is to say if we – members of Congress – fail in our responsibility to act like grown-ups and get this thing moving forward, we’re going to pay a price just like other people are.”
“It’s absolutely the right thing to do,” she said. “Why should a small class of people be treated differently than anyone else especially since they’re the ones responsible for a government shutdown or not raising the debt ceiling?”
The lawmakers said they hope to “hotline” the bill – in other words, to pass it unanimously in the Senate without any debate or amendments. The bill would also prevent members of Congress and the president from getting paid retroactively after a federal shutdown ends.
In recent days Democrats have grown more and more vocal in their calls for Republicans to rule out the prospect of a shutdown.
“A government shutdown is on the table. It’s been put on the table. Or put another way, it has not been taken off the table,” Boxer said today.
Last week Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said “it’s time for the House Republicans to stop with the games and finally rule out a government shutdown once and for all.”
Jack Lew, the director of the Office of Management & Budget, told Congress on Tuesday that a shutdown should be avoided.
“We all want to avoid a situation like that,” Lew said at a House Budget Committee hearing. “It’s not the right way to run the government and I think we have a broad agreement that we need to keep essential services going.”