No Budget, No Pay: The Long-Shot Legislation That Many Voters Want

'No Budget, No Pay' is unlikely to pass. But polls say it's popular with voters.

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Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, smiles as a supporter tries to take a photo of them at a meet and greet campaign event in Jamestown, N.D., Monday, Feb. 20, 2012.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, smiles as a supporter tries to take a photo of them at a meet and greet campaign event in Jamestown, N.D., Monday, Feb. 20, 2012.

At a town hall of more than 200 registered voters in Springfield, Va., last weekend, the audience wanted to talk about thing: withholding pay from lawmakers if they don’t pass a federal budget.

The so-called "No Budget No Pay" started with No Labels, a group that says it wants to end the infighting and partisanship in Congress. Support for the idea has grown, and federal lawmakers are considering legislation to that effect.

Polling at the town hall, which focused on fiscal responsibility and was hosted by fiscal watchdog the Comeback America Initiative, found 91 percent of attendees supported budget reforms — the biggest one being No Budget, No Pay. In July, polling firm the Clarus Research Group found that 72 percent of voters supported the legislation.

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Despite its draconian mandate, the bill has bipartisan support from sponsors Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller and Tennessee Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper. It has 11 co-sponsors in the Senate and 78 in the House from both parties, including the popular voice of fiscal responsibility, Republican Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Former Maine governor Angus King, now an independent U.S. Senate candidate, tweeted his support for the bill Tuesday.

"The grassroots support for this bill is amazing... but right now the Democratic and Republican leadership is fighting it like crazy," Cooper tells Whispers. "But this [bill] doesn't say we have to pass a balanced budget or even a good budget. Just a budget. Every house has to pay their credit card bill, even the minimum, and so should we."

The town hall meeting was part of a five-week national bus tour through swing states, during which CAI found that No Budget, No Pay was a big hit among undecided voters at every stop. 

"It literally drew cheers and sustained applause," says CAI spokeswoman Christie Findlay. "I saw the ovations happen again and again, and the depth of support was remarkable."

Cooper says he isn't surprised. "This is as popular as ice cream and better for you," he says.

Still, like the federal budget, experts say the bill has little chance of being passed. The last congressional hearing on the proposal was in March. 

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.