Americans across social media are giving members of Congress an earful of grief following the failed budget negotiations that ground the U.S. government to a halt on Tuesday. And at least one of those representatives appears to be paying attention.
On Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party introduced a bill that would withhold paychecks to members of Congress during the shutdown. Currently, the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, which stipulates that congressional salaries cannot change between elections, protects pay for both the House and the Senate during the shutdown, but if Nolan gets his way, the “No Government, No Pay Act of 2013” could change that.
“It’s time for Congress to start living in the real world -- where you either do your job, or you don’t get paid,” Nolan said in a statement. “The American people sent this Congress to Washington to use common sense -- to collaborate, compromise, solve problems and govern -- not to shut down the federal government. It’s time to restore Regular Order and put an end to government by crisis.”
Nolan’s bill comes amid a blame game between Senate Democrats and House Republicans, who can’t agree on a federal budget that would both keep the government running and retain funding for Obamacare. The stalemate has exasperated the American public. Using the hashtag #DearCongress over the last 24 hours, Twitter and Facebook users have been expressing their frustrations though thousands of tweets, updates, memes and photos -- with many saying they believe that members of Congress should be punished for their inability to compromise.
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#DearCongress - If working class government employees will have to lose their paycheck during this, you should, too.
â€” P Scott Patterson (@OriginalPSP) October 1, 2013
#DearCongress, thanks for once again showing how useless your power is and that the people have to take power for ourselves.
â€” Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) October 1, 2013
#dearcongress I took a vow to serve the public and I'm sitting at home without a job today. Who are you getting paid to serve?
â€” rebecca shiller (@becca_shiller) October 1, 2013
Yes, even the Almighty God took time out of his busy schedule to address the controversy:
â€” almightygod (@almightygod) October 1, 2013
Sadly, the messages appear to be falling largely on deaf ears. Nolan’s bill aside, many members of Congress seemed content to spend the first day of the shutdown propagating the status quo -- political posturing and finger-pointing:
“The House of Representatives did its job,” insisted Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., in a statement. “And we did it three times, passing reasonable budgets to keep the government’s doors open. But the Democratic-controlled Senate’s denial of duty leaves families questioning if they’ll have a paycheck to cover this month’s bills.”
“[T]his is a clear result of President Obama, his administration and the Senate’s unfortunate failure to come to the table with the House and listen to the American people,” added Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, in another statement.
Not surprisingly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had a different take.
Shutting down the government is deadly serious. Republicans seem more interested in organizing stunts with empty chairs.
â€” Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) October 1, 2013
But if opinion polls are to be trusted, both sides better start thinking up a new strategy. Even before the shutdown went into effect, the approval rating for Congress was at a dismal 10 percent, according to a CNN poll taken last week. One can only assume that 10 percent is now seriously rethinking its answer.
It’s unclear if Nolan’s “No Pay” bill has any support. International Business Times reached out to the congressman’s office for more information but were told that his schedule may not permit an interview. Updates will be posted here.