Posted in: Politics

27th Amendment Remedy Floated To Force Congress To Do Their Jobs

27th amendment 2013

The 27th Amendment is one of the later, more arcane additions to the Constitution (isn’t that the one about due photo processing?), and few have discussed it since its adoption in 1992 — but a recent suggestion by US Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) has some in Congress calling foul.

So what exactly is the 27th Amendment? While we don’t hear about it much, expect to perhaps see that change — it has to do with how members of Congress are paid and the ways in which that ties into their performance as lawmakers.

In plain words, the 27th Amendment reads:

“No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

The point of the law is to effectively prevent Congress from giving itself a raise without having to be re-elected before doing so, but how it applies to our current budgetary quagmires remains to be seen.

The Herald Tribune explains that Buchanan has advocated for using it to force Congress to pass a budget:

“Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, has joined on as a co-sponsor of a bill that would withhold the pay of every member of Congress every time they fail to pass a budget by Oct. 1, the start of each fiscal year for the federal government … Members of Congress are paid $174,000 a year.”

Approval for Congress is at a pretty consistent low, and invocation of the 27th Amendment has even fiscally sanctimonious Republicans quaking in their boots. In a fiery column for The Hill, Buchanan explains his reasoning behind co-sponsoring a bill tying compensation to budget, writing:

“The legislation I have co-sponsored is simple – members of the U.S. Senate and House do not get paid until they pass a budget. The appropriately named ‘No Budget, No Pay Act,’ stipulates that if Congress does not approve a budget and spending bills by October 1st of each year, the paycheck for every single member of the Senate and House will be withheld until a budget is approved. Additionally, no member can retroactively receive pay that would have been earned during the time without a budget.

Fiscal Cliff Deal Passed House

The Republican adds the he believes Congress should face the same consequences average wage earners do when failing to do their jobs effectively:

No small business would tolerate paying an employee who refuses to do his or her job. So why should taxpayers pay a Congress that refuses to complete one of its most basic annual responsibilities?”

Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA) has said the measure is “unconstitutional,” but it seems the American people might support such a use of the 27th Amendment. It should be noted that Buchanan, like Issa, is a member of Congress wealthy independent of his Congressional salary of $174,000 yearly, and is not financially dependent on that wage. (Issa later clarified his initial position on the proposal.)

UCLA law professor Adam Winkle opined that the 27th Amendment ploy is a wild card, and that the “answer [of constitutionality] is unclear because the 27th Amendment has never been authoritatively interpreted by the Supreme Court,” adding it appears such use would indeed be unconstitutional as it varies lawmaker pay.

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4 Responses to “27th Amendment Remedy Floated To Force Congress To Do Their Jobs”

  1. Duane Overholt

    Vern Buchanan is a used car dealer in Sarasota Florida, according to records and interviews from fromer partners. employees and his own CFO. Buchanan is a liar, thief and a crook. He has won election time after time in his district by the using the con.

    He promises his district change, protection and jobs. What it appears he has done is pad his pockets at their expense. He even took advantage of Habitat for Humanity for over 1 million dollars in a land sale. He now appears to be buying properties with family and associates on the short sale to make money in the future by selling these properties to rich investors wanting to move to Sarasota.

    The public has to look at how he does business and stop him in courts were it appears that he and his attorney will do what it takes to win. If that means getting people to lie, falsifing documents, or many other things he will and has.

    Buchanan has and will use his political power and wealth to make sure his handlers agenda is fulfilled. Honest members of congress and the voters have to see him as a threat to the future for all parties.

    Buchanan seems to be the worse of all worlds because the records on hand shows he is bought and paid for.

    Duane Overholt
    Consumer Advocate

  2. Patrick Frye

    Sounds like a good plan to me. Although, quite frankly, the House has been passing budgets for years as it's supposed to since Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution requires that “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” It's only the Senate that has screwed up the budgeting process, since based upon the separation of powers all President Obama can do is make recommendations and veto a budget he doesn't like (I don't that's happened?). So any bill that takes away pay needs to be on the basis of who's not doing their part of the job.

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