Manchin mulls No Budget, No Pay Act

WASHINGTON – A West Virginia senator who supports withholding paychecks unless Congress passes a budget that addresses fiscal problems has reservations with the No Budget, No Pay Bill Act passed by the House on Wednesday.

The act does nothing to control spending and delays such decisions for another three months, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said on Thursday.

“It doesn’t sit well with me,” he said.

The House of Representatives on Thursday adopted the act, which requires the House or Senate to pass a budget by April 15 or paychecks will be withheld to members of either chamber which doesn’t pass a budget. The act also would suspend the debt limit ceiling until May.

The problem, according to Manchin, is the act delays decisions to control spending for another three months.

“It acts as if we don’t have a problem,” Manchin said.

A no budget, no pay bill is part of Manchin’s 2013 legislative initiatives; however, his legislation would prohibit members of both chambers of Congress from receiving pay if both houses fail to approve a concurrent resolution on the budget.

Manchin wouldn’t say whether he would vote against the House act that passed 285-144. All West Virginia congressmen voted in favor.

“I can’t give you a definitive answer right now,” Manchin said.

Manchin spoke to reporters in West Virginia by conference call.

On other topics, Manchin will support the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense. Among key issues are the war on terrorism, support for Israel and preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, he said.

In the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shootings, Manchin supports a national commission on mass violence made up of all parties involved including the National Rifle Association to study the “culture of violence.”

He will support legislation reclassifying drugs containing hydrocodone as a Schedule II drug, therefore requiring an original prescription for refills and a national energy policy that includes all sources of fuel to make America energy independent.

Women should be allowed to go into combat, Manchin, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said. Most women from West Virginia are handy with a rifle, he said.

“They shoot pretty darn good,” he said.