Congressman Jim Cooper

Representing the 5th District of Tennessee
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Cooper Bill Would Halt Congressional Pay if U.S. Defaults on Debt

Sep 6, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – As Congress returned from its August recess and Republican majorities failed to develop a plan for funding government, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) reintroduced a bill that would stop congressional pay in case of an even bigger catastrophe: American default.

“It’s our duty in Congress to keep America strong. Risking our nation’s credit rating hurts America. Members of Congress should do their jobs, not play political games,” Rep. Cooper said. “Shutting down government is shameful. Defaulting on our debt is dangerous.”

Cooper is the lead sponsor of the Stop Pay for Members Act as Congress again lumbers toward fiscal meltdown. Even as a government funding bill expires Sept. 30, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently warned that Congress must raise the debt ceiling by late September or risk federal default. Raising the debt ceiling is a parliamentary procedure that allows America to pay bills Congress is already obligated to pay.

A veteran supporter of a bipartisan debt plan that would tackle America’s toughest issues, Cooper says his bill is a needed antidote to rampant congressional misbehavior.

Just six years ago, Congress came within hours of failing to increase the debt limit in time, leading the nation to the brink of default. Citing partisan brinksmanship and an inability to complete even basic tasks in Congress, Standard & Poor’s downgraded America’s credit rating as the 2011 dispute resolved itself at virtually the last minute. The U.S. Treasury issued a report in 2013 detailing the impasse’s impact on the economy.

Cooper first introduced the Stop Pay for Members Act during the 2011 crisis. Two years later, Cooper reintroduced the bill during a similar breakdown, and House Republicans eventually used it as the basis of an amendment to a debt ceiling bill. The amendment passed overwhelmingly, receiving 340 votes.

A longtime advocate for fiscal accountability, Cooper is also sponsoring the No Budget, No Pay Act, a bill that would halt congressional pay if Congress fails to pass America’s budget bills on time.