Making Congress Do Its Job, Anyway

In the wake of county clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to give out marriage licenses to same sex couples a series of internet memes circulated with individuals in jobs that required them to do things they preferred not to do, but did their job anyway. It’s a funny concept, but one that doesn’t apply to Republicans in Congress who repeatedly threaten to shut down the government, failing to do their jobs in order to throw a temper tantrum over the conservative outrage du jour.

It has almost no chance of passing (see, Republicans in Congress) but a bill has been introduced to incentivize Congressmembers to actually govern responsibly:

Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) introduced a bill Friday that would prevent members of Congress from getting paid in the event of a government shutdown.

“It’s time to put an end to government by crisis management,” Nolan said in a statement. “And it’s time for Congress to start living in the real world — where you either do your job — or you don’t get paid. If hundreds of thousands of other federal employees are to go without their salaries — twisting slowly in the wind in a government shutdown — then the Congress should not be paid either.”

Under Nolan’s bill, members of Congress would go unpaid for the duration of the shutdown. He introduced similar legislation during the 16-day government shutdown in 2013 that left 800,000 federal workers furloughed without pay. While his bill never got off the ground, Nolan donated the money he was paid over the shutdown to charities in his district.

If Republicans want to run government like a business, this would be a good way to start. If you don’t do the work you’re supposed to do you don’t get paid. But the GOP only pays lip service to wanting the government to run efficiently.

At some point in the future when Democrats finally retake Congress, this should be one of the first bills they pass. The era of government by crisis hostage taking needs to end.

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David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.