The Senate May Have Passed 'No Budget No Pay,' But Congress Will Still Get Paid No Matter What

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The "No Budget, No Pay" bill passed the Senate Thursday afternoon, sending the measure to the President's desk for a final signature.

The bill suspends the debt ceiling until May 18 and contains a measure that cuts off pay for member of Congress in the event that the Senate does not produce a budget that the House approves.

However, the title of the legislation is misleading.

Members of Congress will get paid  — members earn $174,000 per year, or $348,000 per term —  r egardless of whether they pass a budget. They just might not get their paychecks right away.   

The first thing that has to happen is that both the House and the Senate need to each pass a budget. This is easy for the House, which has already passed the Paul Ryan budget and is working on an updated version now. The onus, as intended, is on the Senate to produce their own budget.

Next, select Senators and Representatives start negotiating, with the goal of reconciling the two plans into a mutually-agreed upon conference report, which must then be passed by both chambers. 

This is called a concurrent resolution, and sets the levels of appropriation bills for the budgetary year. It's not a law for the President to sign, just a negotiated, binding agreement over what appropriations bills will eventually be sent to the President.

If this occurs prior to April 15, then everybody will get their regular paychecks.

If Congress doesn't agree to a concurrent resolution on the 2014 budget by April 15, the payroll administrators of the House and Senate will deposit all paychecks into an escrow account. 

If Congress agrees on the concurrent resolution sometime after April 16, members get  the lump sum payment of all their paychecks put into escrow after the budget deadline.

If Congress doesn't agree to the concurrent resolution at any point during the 113th Congress, then members will not get paid until the last day of the Congress, in late 2014 or early 2015. At that point, each member will get the rest of their $348,000 in a lump sum. 



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