Op-Ed: Congress Should Meet Its Deadlines

Congressman Keith Rothfus

Congressman Keith Rothfus

Getting things done on time is important. It is a value we teach our kids.

Prior to joining the House of Representatives in 2013, I worked in the private sector negotiating contracts. If a client had to have something done by a certain date, it had to be done. Deadlines mattered.

We all have to pay our mortgages or rent, taxes, credit card bills, and utility bills every month.

By the first day of school, we make sure that our kids are ready to start the year.

There is an annual deadline that the House and Senate have failed to meet with embarrassing frequency. The federal government operates on a fiscal year that begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th. Congress and the President are responsible for enacting budgets and twelve annual appropriations bills by September 30th.

At least, that is how it is supposed to work.

Unfortunately, Congresses led by both parties have finished their work on all regular appropriations bills before this deadline only four times since 1977.

This is simply unacceptable.

Last year, the House passed four of the twelve appropriations bills on time. The Senate passed none.

As a result, Congress was once again forced to resort to an Omnibus spending bill because the House and Senate failed to complete their work on time. I voted for this legislation because it included funding for vital parts of the federal government.

Notably, the Omnibus strengthens our national security, ensures military readiness, and supports our servicemembers and military families. It increases funding for mental health care, traumatic brain injury research, suicide prevention outreach, and care for homeless veterans. It also provides funds to help the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) build a coordinated electronic health record system with the Department of Defense, which will improve care for veterans.

The Omnibus also provides funds for information technology upgrades, overtime, and additional training to help the VA meet its goal of ending the disability claims backlog by 2015.

While the Omnibus includes funding for these priorities, it is not a good or responsible way for Congress to do its work. Instead of voting twelve times on individual appropriations bills and hundreds of times on amendments to those bills, Congress voted only once. Under this arrangement, important and necessary spending is held hostage to questionable and wasteful spending. This could have been avoided if Congress got its work done on time.

That is why I introduced the Congressional Pay for Performance Act, a solution to address the broken and inefficient budget and appropriations process and prevent future behemoth spending bills. This simple bill will hold Congress accountable and force it to comply with deadlines, just like people in the real world outside of Washington, D.C. It requires the House and Senate to each pass a budget by April 15th and all twelve appropriations bills by July 31st.

This would then allow the House and Senate two months to reconcile the differences between their respective bills before the start of the new fiscal year.

I urge Western Pennsylvanians and all other Americans to support the Congressional Pay for Performance Act, common-sense and good-government legislation that forces Congress to live by the same rules as the rest of the country.

It’s simple. If senators and representatives are not performing their core constitutional duties in a timely manner, they should not be paid until the work is done.

6 comments

  • OK. What happens to the children running this country into the ground if the dead line is not met? Oh, they won’t be paid. Like that matters to a bunch of people who already have money. How about they get impeached?

  • How, or better who is going to enforce such a rule?  To be honest, most if not all law makers are well off enough that they could survive if they missed 5 or 6 paychecks.  If you really want to send a message, then the penalty for not preforming their duties within their timeline is loss of office, salary, and all their health, medical, and retirement benefits like the rest of the working people of this country. 

  • How about you lose your job if you don’t perform just like the teacher pay for performance clause of the new evaluation systems? One major difference though, you are in complete and total control of yours where the teacher is not.

  • Blow it out your ass, you Tea Party loon.  Besides obstructing, you’ve accomplished zero.  Oh right, you have wasted millions by voting 48 times to repeal the ACA.  How’d did this radical right-wing extremist ever win an election?

  • This op-ed sounds good at first, BUT dig a little deeper and you have to ask yourself, “What does he REALLY mean”?  Color me paranoid, but back-door politics is what I suspect.First, Wikipedia defines the United States Congress as “the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States consisting  of two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate.”Second, I googled his Bill: H.R. 3887: Congressional Pay for Performance Act of 2014.  It states, “To hold the salaries of Members of a House of Congress in escrow if the House of Congress does not agree to a budget resolution or pass regular appropriation bills on a timely basis during a Congress, and for other purposes.”Note the phrases: “A” House of Congress, “THE” House of Congress, and “A” Congress.  What is the LEGAL difference, if any, between them?  And God only knows what he means by “and for other purposes”.In essence, he COULD mean ONE House of Congress gets paid while the other ONE doesn’t, meaning the Tea-party Republican House vs the more moderate Senate.  Sounds like “legal” extortion to me.  PASS OUR BILL… OR ELSE!!With HIS voting record on unemployment, food stamps, women’s issues and many other reasons, does he seriously expect me to believe that all of a sudden he is so concerned?I didn’t vote for him the first time and I wont vote for him – EVER.