Everywhere else in this great land of ours, people are measured by results. It’s a simple formula. If you do not produce, you do not get paid. Judging from the many threatrics that come out of Washington DC, it seems that our politicians are somehow impervious to the standards expected of every body else. There’s the Fiscal Cliff and other budget impasse dramas that erode confidence in our institutions, carrying with it consequences in world trade, business & commerce and other areas of American life.
What a confusing and frustrating sensation it was to hear about a bill introduced specifically to punish lawmakers for not funding the Department of Homeland Security. It gives the impression that the DHS is not vitally important to our national security. Even worse is that we have an agency that is altogether expendable. Because if the lawmakers, who have access to intelligence assessments, do not have the sense of urgency, then the people should wonder. Does that mean that the state and local police agencies currently in place are adequate and competent to meet the threats posed by the enemies of this nation, foreign and domestic?
In the deep recesses of the snow festooned seat of government emerged a ray of hope. A group of four lawmakers including U.S. Representatives Brad Ashford (NE-02), Gwen Graham (FL-02), Scott Peters (CA-52), and Ami Bera (CA-07) introduced H.R. 1032, the “No Homeland Security, No Pay Act.” In a release through their website, the office of Rep. Ashford said that, “”The “No Homeland Security, No Pay Act,” would withhold the pay of members of Congress in an escrow account should funding lapse for DHS. The funds would not be available until funding legislation is signed in to law.”
There were other legislation introduced in the past seeking to prevent government shutdowns. In September 2013 H.R. 3160 (113th): Government Shutdown Fairness Act was introduced by Rep. Chris Collins (NY-27) but was not enacted. On the same month H.R. 3224 (113th): No Government No Pay Act of 2013 was introduced by Representative Richard Nolan (MN-08) and was likewise not enacted.
The deadline for funding DHS is midnight of Friday the 27th of February before furloughs and other drastic measures are implemented. None of the 240,000 employees of the department will be paid while funding is being arranged. However, reports state that 85% will be required to report at their jobs while the issue gets sorted at the Hill.
Judging from Sen. Reid’s late evening tweet, full funding will not be arranged in time. If it weren’t for the fact that most our lawmakers are already affluent, the inconvenience of paying their personal bills late will be a token compared to having wages of federal employees withheld. In the meantime, while this drama unfolds many Americans will be waiting with bated breath for assurances from our leaders that all will be well in our great land.