A political maneuver by House Republicans to include a "No Budget, No Pay" provision in legislation to temporary suspend the federal debt ceiling has given freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera the chance to act on one of his key campaign pledges.
The main purpose of the bill, which passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 285-144 today, was to prevent the government from going into default for at least four months by temporarily lifting a $16.4 trillion cap on federal borrowing.
But it also included language to withhold pay for members if their chamber doesn't pass a budget plan. The move was seen as a political poke at the Senate, which hasn't adopted a full budget resolution in years.
Bera made his pledge to support a slightly different version of the "No Budget, No Pay Act" a central theme of his successful campaign to oust incumbent GOP Rep. Dan Lungren, attacking Lungren in ads and press releases for failing to green light the legislation as chair of the House Administration Committee.
The original version backed by Bera required that both houses approve a spending plan and didn't allow members to receive their pay retroactively once the budget is passed or the session ends, similar to the penalty for lawmakers contained in California's voter-approved Proposition 25.
Though the provision passed today lacked some of the bite of the original bill, Bera's office said the Elk Grove Democrat saw the language as a step in the right direction. And the vote presented the first-term congressman with his first opportunity to give remarks on the House floor.
"As an original co-sponsor of H.R. 310, the stand-alone and original No Budget No Pay Act, I am pleased to see the 113th Congress begin to address our core obligation- to pass a responsible budget that not only honors the promises that we have made to our parents and grandparents but also secures a prosperous future for our children and grandchildren," he said on the floor. "We can do this but we must do so in a bi-partisan way."
Bera was one of 86 Democrats to vote for the bill, according to POLITICO. More than 100 members of his caucus colleagues opposed the measure.
House votes to defuse debt limit crisis
PHOTO CREDIT: Ami Bera. Lezlie Sterling / Sacramento Bee file photo, 2012