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October 2, 2014

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The Policy Racket

Heller’s ‘no budget, no pay’ plan part of debt ceiling agreement

Dean Heller

Dean Heller

The Senate gave its final blessing to a bill to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling today, with a vote that simultaneously sent Nevada Sen. Dean Heller’s “no budget, no pay” legislation to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The Senate passed the three-month suspension of the debt ceiling by a vote of 64 to 34 Thursday, with Nevada Sens. Harry Reid and Heller both voting in favor of it.

The legislation will keep the country from defaulting on its debts for another three months.

It will also somewhat defuse the upcoming fight over sequestration cuts — and how and whether to avert them — that was expected to take place in late February, about the time the country’s borrowing authority would have expired.

Reid said he would have preferred “a longer suspension of the debt ceiling, which would provide additional economic stability.”

“But a short-term solution is better than another imminent, manufactured crisis,” he said. “A clean debt ceiling increase that allows the United States to meet its existing obligations should be the standard.”

The debt ceiling increase, however, isn’t entirely unencumbered: The bill includes a potential new standard for budget-drafting. The legislation states that if members of the House and Senate fail to pass fiscal 2014 budgets in their individual chambers by October, lawmakers will see their pay docked until they pass a budget.

The “no budget, no pay” standard is something Heller came up with in his early weeks as a senator in 2011 and has been lobbying for since.

Members of the House included it as part of the debt ceiling suspension earlier this month; last week, all members of the Nevada delegation, except Rep. Joe Heck, voted for the combined bill.

“Interestingly, the last time we actually passed a budget, the iPad wasn’t even invented. Needless to say, I’m pleased that the Senate has embraced my idea, and has now passed ‘No Budget, No Pay’ legislation,” Heller said in a statement. “I hope that Congress takes one step further, and makes the ‘No Budget, No Pay’ principle permanent.”

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