Late Update: The bill will be brought to the floor for a vote Friday, according to GOP leadership. “The House GOP agrees, which is why a bill will be brought to the floor tomorrow to do just that,” says Brad Dayspring spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Democrats in both the House and Senate are pressing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to take up legislation that would suspend congressional pay in the event of a government shutdown.
“Given the fact that a shutdown will cause real harm to millions of Americans, Congress must accept the same consequences if it fails to keep the government functioning,” reads a letter from Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY), cosigned by over two dozen Dems, to Boehner. “The House must be given an opportunity to vote on clean bill that leaves no doubt that Members of Congress cannot receive a paycheck while the rest of the nation suffers from inaction on government funding for this year.”
Just yesterday, over a dozen Dem senators sent a similar letter to Boehner. Weeks ago, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to precisely this effect. And now, both House and Senate Dems are asking for a vote on that bill in the House.
The legislation raises constitutional questions. The 27th Amendment holds “No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.” The intent of that amendment is to prevent members of Congress from giving themselves huge pay increases after winning an election. But it works both ways. During the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, then-candidate John Edwards raised the same questions when he said his first act as President would be to introduce legislation stripping members of their health benefits if they failed to pass a universal health care bill by date certain.
But the politics are obvious. Who wants to be on record saying they want to keep getting paid while the government shuts down over their unwillingness to compromise.
[Ed note: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this post identified Brad Dayspring as a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. He is a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. We regret the mistake.]
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.