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Senate Vote: 11     Vote Date: Jan 31st, 2013

Issue:  H.R. 325, No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013.   A bill to ensure the complete and timely payment of the obligations of the United States Government until May 19, 2013, and for other purposes.

Result:  Passed 64 to 34, 2 not voting. Became Public Law 113-3 (signed by the president 2-4-2013). GOP and Democrat selected vote.

Bill Summary: The “No Budget, No Pay Act” temporarily suspended the United States debt ceiling from February 4, 2013 until May 18, 2013. Under the Act, on May 19 the debt ceiling would be reset to a level “necessary to fund commitment incurred by the Federal Government that required payment.”

The Act also required the withholding of congressional pay after April 15 in any house that had not agreed to a concurrent budget resolution for FY2014.

(Note: The potential congressional “No Pay” restrictions were overcome prior to April 15. On March 21, the House passed a FY 2014 budget, which was rejected by the Senate. On March 23, the Senate passed its own 2014 budget. The House refused to vote on the Senate budget.)

Analysis: The National Debt Ceiling has a long history dating back to World War I. Previously, Congress directly authorized each individual borrowing on the credit of the United States. With the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917, Congress modified the method by which it authorized debt to the present system, whereby it would establish an aggregate limit.

Prior to the “No Budget, No Pay Act” the ceiling had been set at $16.4 trillion (in 2011). As authorized by this Act, on May 19 the debt ceiling was reinstated at just under $16.7 trillion to reflect borrowing during the three-and-a-half-month suspension period. The treasury was then forced again to resort to “extraordinary measures” to avoid default.

The next change (another suspension) in the debt ceiling came in October with the enactment of H.R. 2775, the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, to end the government “shutdown.” See Senate Vote 219 (10-16-13) and House Roll Call 550 (10-16-13).

The constitutional authority provided to Congress to borrow money on the credit of the United States (Article I, Section 8) does not prevent Congress from allowing the federal government to incur obligations or to run deficits that require additional borrowing. And so the requirement for debt authorization is not, by itself, an adequate instrument for politicians to enforce fiscal discipline. This has been particularly true once the Federal Reserve was created with the power to inflate the money supply while purchasing government debt.

However, requiring Congress to approve any increases in the debt ceiling does provide a very visible reminder to the American public that government spending is out of control. In the process, the debt ceiling puts needed public pressure on Congress and the president to confront the mounting debt.

Government spending and particularly unconstitutional government are seriously out of control. Together, they are the root cause of America’s recession, are destroying America’s middle class, are a threat to our freedom, and, if not soon brought under control, will produce a much greater financial crisis. While we don’t advocate that the federal government default on its obligations, responsible congressmen must use any leverage they can find to force government to change course.

President Obama has frequently sought to sway public opinion by arguing that is improper for the Congress to attach strings to raising the debt ceiling. He insists that the debt must be increased unconditionally to pay for whatever spending has been previously agreed upon. However, previously established budgets must often be revised when there is greater will or financial clarity.

Clearly, there is little determination in Washington to deal constructively with our debt problem and the partisan “compromises” in appropriations supporting it.   Liberal Democrats even argue that more government spending is the route to helping the poor, not less.

However, there is a much more serious problem preventing a true solution. The much-hyped partisan political charade obscures the fundamental collusion by both parties at the top in developing and sustaining Big Brother. The Establishment media constantly reinforces the false premise that we got into this mess as a result of compromise by political adversaries who merely differ in their views of what’s best for America. And that somehow compromise with socialists is not only a necessity but also a virtue.

In the House, both parties supported the final measure — the GOP by a vote of 199 to 33 and the Democrats 86 to 111, 3 not voting. Many of the most liberal House Democrats (e.g., Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers, George Miller) weren’t satisfied with a short-term increase (even though President Obama would sign the bill) and voted “no.” And so we do not score the House Democrats on this one (right vote, wrong reason).

In the Senate, the same bill carried by a vote of 64 to 34 with all but 1 (Manchin) of the “no” votes coming from Republican senators who properly wanted further spending cuts to accompany an increase in the limit. 12 GOP senators joined the Democrats in supporting the measure.

We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)