When I was growing up in Bangor, I learned the value of hard work, the importance of community and the responsibility of public service.
These are simple, common sense values that many of our leaders in Washington seem to have forgotten. If you’ve got a job to do, you do it. If you have a deadline, you meet it. When people are depending on you, you do your absolute best not to let them down.
This past October, for the third year in a row, Congress did not abide by these simple values, beginning another fiscal year without a budget in place. In fact, it has been over 1,000 days since Congress passed a concurrent budget resolution. That’s over three years without a clear fiscal plan to guide our nation into an increasingly difficult future.
It obviously isn’t enough to just talk about the need for bipartisan cooperation. We’ve all done that until we’re blue in the face, and they aren’t listening. Clearly, Congress needs more meaningful incentives to do its job, set priorities and pass a budget on time.
OK. If they can’t do their job, then they shouldn’t be paid.
This basic concept is the foundation of the No Budget, No Pay Act introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate in December. The bill will go before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee, on which Sen. Susan Collins is the senior Republican, on March 7.
The No Budget, No Pay Act is one of a dozen proposals by the citizen-based congressional reform organization, No Labels ( NoLabels.org), which advocates for common sense solutions to make a gridlocked and hyperpartisan Congress work.
At a time of economic struggle, we need our government leaders — in both Washington and Augusta — to put aside partisan point scoring and focus on getting the job done.
Congress had a job to do, but didn’t do it. Members had a deadline, but they didn’t meet it. The nation is depending on them, but members of Congress let them down.
When I worked at the White House Office of Management and Budget, my colleagues and I knew we had to make tough decisions about where to spend and where to invest, when to cut and when to say no. In preparing the federal budget we made those tough choices, and in these tough economic times, Congress must begin to do the same.
It’s time to let Congress know we are ready to hold them accountable to do their civic duty.
Sen. Collins is a member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee and a leading voice on this issue. Please let her and Sen. Olympia Snowe and Rep. Chellie Pingree know that you support No Budget, No Pay (Rep. Mike Michaud is already a co-sponsor) and go to nolabels.org to ask them to support the measure and attend the hearing on March 7.
Former independent candidate for governor, Eliot Cutler is a No Labels Co-Founder and Chairman of OneMaine.