Budgets and pipelines were the focus of Arkansas’ Congressional delegation on Wednesday (Jan. 23), with U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., joining the growing chorus of Republicans who seek to block congressional pay until a federal budget is passed.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved on Wednesday the so called “No Budget, No Pay” legislation. It’s been almost four years since Congress approved a federal budget. Since then, funding authority has come from continuing resolutions.
“Just like businesses and families across the country, the federal government should take seriously its responsibility to pass a budget and live within its means,” U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, said in a statement. “But for the last four years, the Democrat-controlled Senate has simply ignored the statutory requirement to do so. H.R. 325 requires Congress to do its job or not get paid. Simple as that. Now that it has been approved in the House, I hope the Senate will promptly take up – and pass – this bill.”
The companion bill was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada.
"This will prevent our nation from continuously operating on a three or four month basis with the threat of a looming government shutdown every few months,” Boozman said of the legislation. “Instead, Congress will pass a budget for the entire fiscal year and all appropriations bills or not receive a paycheck as a consequence. This piece of legislation is not just a good thing for our nation’s fiscal health; it’s simply the right thing to do.”
According to the statement from Boozman’s office, Congress has since 2007 approved “omnibus spending bills and continuing resolutions which punts the difficult spending and budget decisions to a later date.”
However, federal budgets weren’t always the law of the land.
“Budgets weren’t required of Congress until 1976," Stan Collender, a budget expert at Qorvis Communications, said in this report at Market Place. "So for the first 200 years or so of American history, there were no annual budgets produced by Congress. And you know what? We did pretty well.”
Also on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., was one of 53 Senators to send a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to approve the Keystone pipeline project.
President Obama refused in January 2012 to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, with Pryor and then U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, disapproving of the decision. Obama said he could not approve the project because not enough time is allowed for a full environmental assessment.
The Keystone pipeline is a 1,661 mile, 36-inch crude oil pipeline beginning at Hardisty, Alberta (Canada), and extend southeast through Saskatchewan, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, according to this report from TransCanada, the company pushing the project. The pipeline would use portions of the Keystone Pipeline now in Nebraska and Kansas, and eventually connect at the key terminal of Cushing, Okla., and then extend to the refinery operations in Texas along the Gulf of Mexico.
Boozman also signed the letter sent Wednesday to Obama. Pryor said the pipeline is a part of helping the U.S. be more energy secure.
“To ensure our future energy security, we need a national energy plan and the Keystone Pipeline is a critical part of the solution,” Pryor said in a statement. “With the recent approval from Nebraska, the President is out of excuses for holding up this project. I hope he’ll act swiftly to approve the pipeline and create thousands of jobs here at home.”