The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 17, 2014

Rothfus bill penalizes dysfunctional Congress

JOHNSTOWN — U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, spoke about the importance of meeting deadlines during a speech on the House floor earlier this week.

The 12th district’s congressman talked about how people need to get things done on time when dealing with business arrangements, paying taxes, getting children ready for school and celebrating anniversaries. He then chided Congress for often failing to meet deadlines when trying to create spending bills.

Along with the stern words, Rothfus introduced the Congressional Pay for Performance Act. It calls for holding the salaries of House or Senate members in escrow if their respective chamber “does not agree to a budget resolution or pass regular appropriation bills on a timely basis,” according to the text. H.R. 3887 would require both houses to pass budget resolutions by April 15 and all 12 appropriation bills by July 31.

“This simple bill would hold Congress accountable and force us to comply with deadlines,” said Rothfus. “That’s what the people in the real world do outside of Washington, D.C.”

Congress has completed regular spending bills before its annual Sept. 30 deadline only four times since 1977, according to Rothfus’ office.

“Getting things done on time is important,” Rothfus said.

Rothfus introduced the resolution on the same day the House voted on a catch-all omnibus spending bill that would fund the government through the end of its fiscal year.

The plan passed by a vote of 359-67 with Rothfus and the region’s other congressman, Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, supporting it.

“I’m pleased today to join my colleagues in the House in passing a fiscally responsible funding plan that ends the months of budgetary uncertainty and prevents another government shutdown,” said Shuster.

Rothfus qualified his vote by saying, “Congress was once again forced to resort to an omnibus because of a deeply divided government and a House and Senate that failed to complete the annual appropriations process on time.

“I voted for this legislation because it included funding for vital parts of the federal government.

“I strongly believe, however, that omnibus bills are not a good or responsible way for Congress to do its work because they hold necessary spending hostage to wasteful and questionable spending.

“This could have been avoided if Congress got its work done on time.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.

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