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WASHINGTON — The partial government shutdown has been going on for nearly two weeks, and on the first day of the Congress, Utah Rep. John Curtis introduced H.R.26, the “No Work, No Pay Act of 2019.”
According to a statement from Curtis’ office, the bill, if approved, will prevent representatives and senators from being paid when any federal agency is shut down due to a lack of funding allocated by Congress.
“The American people expect Congress to do its most basic job: pass a budget and fund the government. If we can’t, then we shouldn’t get paid,” Curtis said in his news release. “Washington should take note of states like Utah that do it right. Not only does the Utah Legislature pass a baseline budget at the beginning of each legislative session to avoid any state government shutdown threats, but they also responsibly balance the state’s budget every year.”
Curtis has asked the Clerk of the House to withhold his own pay until the government returns to a fully funded status, as he has done during prior government shutdowns this past year.
Attempts have been made toward Curtis’ goal historically, but none have passed. Just last year, the No Work, No Pay Act of 2018 was submitted by Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y. Another in 2018 was titled the No Government, No Pay Act and was submitted by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.
"I think it would help us with the motivation to get the job done.” - Rep. John Curtis
The president is always protected from a decrease in pay by the U.S. Constitution. Article II, Section I of the document forbids the president’s salary from being reduced while in office, guaranteeing compensation for the president despite any kind of government shutdown.
According to the Washington Post, Congress is also considered to not be affected as their funding has been provided by a spending bill which has already been approved.
Rep. Curtis’ bill argues that according to Article I, Section VI of the U.S. Constitution, the document “grants the power to Congress to determine the laws regulating the pay for senators and representatives for their services, to be paid out of the Treasury of the United States.”
The bill specifically seeks to have Congress approve their own lack of pay in the event that the government is shut down partially or fully. According to Curtis' office, “He strongly believes that Republicans and Democrats should be held accountable to find common ground to solve this funding impasse.”
Rep. Curtis told KSL Newsradio on the JayMac News Show, “(The bill) is certainly symbolic, but I want it to be more than that. I think it would help us with the motivation to get the job done.”