WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — A new bipartisan bill would block paychecks to members of Congress if the U.S. government defaults or shuts down. The charge is being led by two lawmakers in an attempt to motivate their colleagues to prevent either of those outcomes.
As the threat of default looms over the economy, Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger and Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick introduced a bill to withhold pay for lawmakers if the event of a default or government shutdown.
“If we are unable to protect the United States government and the United States government from a default, frankly no member of Congress should be getting paid until we are remedying that situation,” Spanberger said.
Right now, President Joe Biden and Republicans are locked in a stare-down. Democrats are demanding Congress raise the debt ceiling and Republicans are refusing to do that without spending cuts attached.
Negotiators met all week to try and strike a deal, but on Friday they abruptly decided to stop the talks. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says that’s because the two sides haven’t found enough common ground.
“We’ve got to get movement by the White House and we don’t have any movement yet, so yeah, we’ve got to pause,” McCarthy said.
Congresswoman Spanberger says passing her bill to block pay would make lawmakers more accountable and add personal urgency.
“Inaction has grave consequences for our economy, our communities, for our national security. And so that’s the point of this legislation, to avoid that inaction,” Spanberger said.
She calls this last-minute scrambling inexcusable. While she is hopeful they will reach a deal, if they don’t she thinks pausing their pay until they resolve things is a no-brainer.
“It needs to be personal and it needs to be a gut punch for any member of Congress. It’s going to be a gut punch for the American people if we default. It’s a gut punch every time the government shuts down,” Spanberger said. “It should be something that we absolutely feel right along with our constituents.”