Cooper Launches Bipartisan Fix Congress Now Caucus

May 16, 2012
Press Release
Founding Members Announce Formal Support of ‘No Budget, No Pay’ Act
WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Scott Rigell (R-VA), Reid Ribble (R-WI), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) appeared together in front of the U.S. Capitol to send a clear message to America: Congress is broken, and they’re ready to fix it. At a press conference Wednesday, they formally launched the Fix Congress Now Caucus, a committed body of like-minded, reform-driven members, both seasoned and new to Congress.

“Diagnosis is the first step to treatment,” said Cooper, who has long advocated for Congressional reform. “So I’m glad my colleagues are recognizing that Congress is broken. By tackling reform, this caucus will push for medicine – like No Budget, No Pay – that Congress could actually swallow.”

The Caucus’ top priorities are reforming the benefits of Congress, addressing the inefficient and unaccountable budgeting process that leaves the country without a budget year after year, and finally, elevating the debate from the bitter partisanship now rampant in Washington.

As the first practical expression of that goal, the founders, flanked by other members who have signed on to support their efforts, announced their unanimous support for HR 3643, the No Budget, No Pay Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in the House by Cooper and in the Senate by Dean Heller (R-NV). It would prohibit members of Congress from collecting pay for each day beyond Oct. 1 they’re late in passing a budget and annual spending bills. No Budget, No Pay has been endorsed by the nonpartisan citizen group No Labels, and has 49 co-sponsors in the House and 10 in the Senate. Cooper testified about the bill before the Senate in March.

“The American people recognize that Washington is broken,” said Congressman Scott Rigell, a Republican from Virginia Beach. “This is underscored by the fact that the 112th Congress has an underwhelming 12 percent approval rating. It is a sobering reality that Congress is, indeed, in need of reform, and it’s time we do something about it.”

Ribble, a Wisconsin freshman who sits on the House Budget Committee, said, “I ran for office for the same reason that I helped start the Fix Congress Now Caucus. I want to ensure that my children and grandchildren can experience America as it should be: the land of opportunity.

“We want the Fix Congress Now Caucus to be a vehicle to correct the systemic dysfunction that has plagued Washington - regardless of party affiliation.” Ribble continued. “If our colleagues on both sides of the aisle stand with us and work toward commonsense solutions, then we can make sure that generations to come have a chance at the American dream.”

Schrader, a Democrat from Oregon agreed: “One of the fundamental responsibilities of Congress is to designate a fiscally responsible budget for which the Federal government has to operate. If we cannot perform this most basic task, we have no right to be collecting a paycheck from hardworking American taxpayers who rely on us to do so.”

Rigell also stressed the importance of elevating the tone of the debate in Washington from partisanship rhetoric to a more civil debate.

“We must strive for a civil tone in Washington. In all debates we have here, we must seek the true facts and not question each other’s motives,” Rigell said. “But do not mistake civility for weakness.  Each of us is firmly rooted in our principles, but we are also committed to seeking the common ground that Americans expect us to find to address this nation’s great challenges.”

For a full list of Fix Congress Now Caucus Members and more information visit