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Democratic Senator Proposes Banning Recess Until Congress Adopts Balanced Budget

Walsh wants senators to stop going on recess until they pass a balanced budget. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Walsh wants senators to stop going on recess until they pass a balanced budget. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Freshman Sen. John Walsh introduced a bill Thursday that would block congressional recesses until there’s an agreement on a budget resolution that balances within a decade.  

Walsh was appointed in February to fill the unexpired term of fellow Montana Democrat Max Baucus, who resigned from the Senate to become ambassador to China.  

“Montana families don’t leave work before the job is done, and Congress shouldn’t get taxpayer-funded trips back home until they’ve addressed the national debt,” Walsh said in a statement. “This is the issue I hear most about from Montanans and I’m sure our neighbors across the country agree that Congress must solve this issue before going back home to ask their constituents for votes. What’s more, we have to responsibly address this issue, which means I won’t allow cuts to Medicare, Social Security and other programs that serve our most vulnerable Americans.”  

The key portion of the bill says that from enactment forward, there would be no recesses of either chamber until such an agreed upon balanced budget resolution takes effect:

(a) IN GENERAL.— During the period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act and ending on the date specified in subsection (b), neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives may recess or stand adjourned for a period of longer than 24 hours.

(b) BALANCED BUDGET AGREED TO.— The date described in this subsection is the date of enactment of a concurrent resolution on the budget that establishes a level of deficit of $0 or a surplus by not later than fiscal year 2024.

Walsh’s bill, of course, has virtually no chance of seeing the light of day, let along becoming law.  

Senate Democrats have dismissed the idea of advancing a budget resolution this year, since the bipartisan budget agreement hammered out between House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., set levels that allow appropriators to craft the fiscal 2015 spending bills.  

Walsh’s bill, which is being billed as the “Do Your Jobs Act,” also would impose new reporting requirements for official travel by members of Congress, directing them to submit annual travel budgets by the time that the president’s budget is supposed to be released.  

Walsh, the former lieutenant governor of Montana, is running for a full term in November. That race is rated Tilts Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.