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One way to force compromise in Congress: No budget, no pay

The Fix Congress Now Caucus is a bipartisan task force of representatives committed to fixing Congress through meaningful reforms. Our first goal: Pass the No Budget, No Pay Act, which would require Congress to pass a budget on time or have members' salaries withheld until it does.

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Sen. Max Baucus (D) of Montana, left, reaches across the table to shake hands with Rep. Fred Upton (R) of Michigan after bipartisan House and Senate conferees signed a compromise agreement on the payroll tax cut extension Feb. 16. Op-ed contributors from the Fix Congress Now Caucus want to advance 'policies that reflect the common ground that binds us together.'

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/file

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The American people recognize that the 112th Congress is arguably the least popular and least productive in modern history, underscored by its underwhelming 12 percent approval rating.

Continuous campaigning, careerism, and plush committee assignments plague a once productive and results-oriented body, resulting in inaction and hyper-partisanship. While members of Congress and special interests make political and financial gains, the American people suffer. This cannot continue.

Understanding this urgent need for reform, we founded the Fix Congress Now Caucus. This bipartisan task force of 11 reform-minded representatives is deeply committed to fixing this broken institution – not through accusations or empty promises, but through substantive reforms to processes, rules, and the organizational structures under which Congress governs itself.

These reforms, to be worked through and implemented over time, will help ensure that members of Congress focus more on what is good for the country and less on what advances individual political careers.

The caucus is pursuing a variety of initiatives with themes that include improving the tone and civility of our debate, aligning congressional benefits to those in the private sector, tying pay to performance, decentralizing power, changing committee structure, and forcing Congress to pass an annual budget – on time.

Our bipartisan group has already held several meetings to discuss and identify common ground – common sense measures and initiatives that can truly reform Congress. The consensus among our members is that the issue in greatest need of immediate action is budget reform. The best way to move that forward is by supporting H.R. 3643, the No Budget, No Pay Act.

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