Rigell approached Representative Cooper with what one of the last Blue Dog Democrats described as a “very inquiring mind and a distressed conscience.” After adding Rep. Reid Ribble (R) of Wisconsin and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) of Oregon to the mix, the Fix Congress Now caucus was ready to roll. The caucus, now supported by some dozen members, has a single signature piece of legislation: no budget, no pay.
The concept is simple: If Congress fails to pass a budget and all 12 appropriations bills by Oct. 1 of each year, legislators go without pay until they’ve achieved passage of every bill. Lawmakers can’t recoup lost pay, either.
The bill is far short of becoming law: It has at least 77 House co-sponsors. A Senate version is sponsored by several Republicans, including Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) of Tennessee, a pragmatic lawmaker who stepped down from his party’s leadership last year to free himself for more bipartisan problem-solving.
The group also aims to “end careerism in public service by beginning the public discourse on term limits.”
But at the urging of Rigell, the group also aims to make a few changes that don’t require legislation by changing how members of Congress act. Rigell, for instance, always refers to the president as "President Obama," never as “Obama.”
“This is foundational to me because we respect the office,” Rigell says. “That basic civility in my view is part of a thread that holds us together, the glue that holds us together.”
That also means he doesn’t use the term “Obamacare” to refer to the president’s signature health-care reform law. It's pejorative, he says, and doesn't respect the facts.