Editor’s Note: The following op-ed was submitted to the Beaver Countian for publication by Congressman Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley), U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district.
What was your first job? Some of my first jobs as a teenager were delivering newspapers, bagging groceries, and flipping hamburgers and working the drive-through at McDonalds.
My route as a thirteen-year-old newspaper delivery boy included thirty homes on weekdays and seventy-five homes on weekends. I still remember biking through muggy summer mornings and trudging through blizzard conditions to make sure people got the paper.
At the end of the week I went door-to-door and collected the subscription fees.
A person’s first job offers a number of important lessons. One of the most basic and fundamental concepts of a job is that you get paid to accomplish a set of duties.
As the employee of 705,000 Western Pennsylvanians one of my most important duties is to be accessible and accountable to my constituents. That is why I have held fifty-six Coffees with Keith all over the district, answered your questions during twenty-two telephone town halls with more than 110,000 participants and responded to constituent inquires more than 170,000 times.
The Constitution proscribes another responsibility for Congress; to appropriate funds for the federal government. Article One, Section Nine, Clause Seven reads “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law…”
In the present day, Congress is supposed to fund the government through twelve annual appropriations bills for each fiscal year. Unfortunately, the last time all appropriations bills were enacted on time was in 1996, and they have only been done on time four times since 1977. This is an abysmal and ridiculous track record.
The House has substantially improved its performance on the appropriations process this year. We have passed seven appropriations bills including: Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Legislative Branch, Commerce-Justice-Science, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Defense, Energy and Water, and Financial Services and General Government. Most of these bills passed with strong bipartisan majorities.
How many appropriations bills has the Senate passed? The answer: zero.
The House should continue work to finish the remaining appropriations bills and show the American people that we are committed to fulfilling our constitutional duty, even if the Senate is not and even if it means cutting into some of the upcoming district work period.
That is why I sent a letter to the House leadership urging them to keep the House in session in order to accomplish these important duties.
Congress’ track record of missing deadlines regarding its constitutionally-required job of appropriating funds led me to introduce the Congressional Pay for Performance Act.
The bill is simple. The House and the Senate must each pass a budget and all the appropriations bills annually by August 1st or have their pay withheld until the job is done.
It applies to that fundamental lesson we learn in our first job; if you don’t do your work, you don’t get paid until you do.
That is the lesson that millions of young Americans working their first jobs this summer will learn. It is the lesson I learned on my paper route. I did not get paid if I did not deliver the paper. It is time for Members of Congress to live by that lesson too.