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Why, after all these years, the Senate is working on a budget (+VIDEO)

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“If you actually have regular order on the budget, even in a divided Congress, both parties put their conceptions of the right course for the country on the table, and that’s good for democracy,” says Bill Galston, a co-founder of No Labels, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, and a former domestic policy adviser in the Clinton administration.

The idea caught on. The Senate held a hearing in March 2012 and Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," among others, covered it. The House did not take up the proposal, but the veteran House chair who punted on holding a hearing on the measure was narrowly defeated in November by a Democratic challenger who campaigned on “no budget, no pay."

In January, House Republicans included a revised version of the measure as a sweetener in the debt-ceiling deal that suspended enforcement of the $16.4 trillion limit through May 19. The No Budget, No Pay Act passed Jan. 23 on a bipartisan vote, 285 to 144. The Senate passed the House bill on Jan. 31.

Now, if the House or Senate fails to pass its own budget resolution by April 15, pay for members will be held in an escrow account until (1) a budget is passed, or (2) the end of the 113th Congress in December 2014.

Senate Republicans say that’s the reason that Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada gave the nod to the Budget Committee to mark up a budget this week and take it to the floor.

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