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Congress looks at withholding members’ salaries until a budget passes

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Several members of Congress are concerned about the federal budget, and a few are even putting their own salaries on the line.

All of West Virginia's U.S. House representatives voted in favor of "No Budget, No Pay" legislation, which passed the House of Representatives Jan. 23 by a vote of 232 to 193. 

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., issued a news release saying the bill would keep the president from making any long-term debt increases until Congress could pass a budget that cuts spending. If it doesn't, members' salaries would be withheld.

"Americans don't have the luxury of simply requesting that their credit limit be raised when finances get tighter," Capito said in the news release. "No person in America gets paid for not doing their job, and members of Congress shouldn't either."

Capito said the Senate hasn't passed a budget since April 29, 2009, and the House has passed two budgets.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said the "No Budget, No Pay Act" extends the federal government's borrowing authority by suspending the enforcement of the debt ceiling through May 19 so the House and Senate have time to draft and pass a budget.

"Today's vote is a first step in putting Washington on a responsible fiscal plan," McKinley said in a news release. "Today's action will force the Senate to show its priorities.

"By passing this bill, we are now able to deal with the bigger issue: Reining in out-of-control spending."

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., was one of a minority of Democrats who voted for the measure.

He said even though the measure is "somewhat gimmicky," it is a clear sign that leaders of both parties are working to ensure that the U.S. government honors its debts.

"The House of Representatives, at least for the time being, is rejecting the reckless political stratagem of holding our nation's public credit hostage in order to demand budgetary concessions," Rahall said in a news release.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., hosted a media conference call Jan. 24, and he said he's a co-sponsor of "No Budget, No Pay," and it's an initiative of the "No Labels" bipartisan organization he started with former Utah Gov. John Huntsman.

But Manchin said the portion of the measure the House passed is not the same as the bill he introduced.

"The real question is how much longer are we going to kick the can down the road?" Manchin said. "I've been here for two years, and I truly haven't seen us meet a deadline."