In the News

By Mark Walker

Rep. Scott Peters says he’s doing what he can to meet a campaign pledge that called for withholding the pay for members of Congress until they adopt a budget.

Peters, D-San Diego, crossed the aisle along with 85 other members of his party on Wednesday to back a debt-limit extension that included a “No Budget, No Pay” provision.

The measure sponsored by House Republican leadership suspends the nation’s debt ceiling for three months and stops paychecks if that chamber and the Senate fail to pass a budget for the next fiscal year by April 15. The bill passed 285-144.

During his campaign against Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray for the 52nd Congressional District, Peters said he believed senators and representatives shouldn’t be paid until they had passed a “balance budget.”

“I don’t think this is perfect, but I thought it was the best thing to do this day,” Peters told U-T San Diego after the vote. “This is a step in the right direction as we look for more ways to compromise and move ahead.”

The bill is designed to put pressure on the Senate to pass a budget, something it hasn’t done since 2009. The House passed a full budget crafted by Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan last year, and an updated version of that plan is due for consideration soon.

The government has operated on a series of continuing resolutions the last few years while a stalemate between the House and Senate over spending cuts has dragged on.

There’s a catch to what was passed Wednesday: Withheld pay would be released when a budget is passed or when the current Congress ends, even if no budget is adopted.

Peters’ vote for the bill on final passage came after he sided with Democrats on two earlier procedural steps that could have bottled it up. It is not uncommon for members to side with their leadership on procedural votes and then go their own way when a bill comes up for final passage.

He said he would have preferred to pass a Democratic version of “No Budget, No Pay” which did not include any link to the debt ceiling.

San Diego’s two other Democratic House members, Reps. Susan Davis and Juan Vargas, voted against the bill. GOP Reps. Duncan Hunter of Alpine and Darrell Issa of Vista supported it.