Should Congress be penalized for possibly closing a part of our government?

Should we penalize Congress if DHS has to shut down because there's no budget?Unless you’ve been off spending a very cold and snowy winter and avoiding all news about what’s going on where we’re cold and sick of snow you’ve probably heard that unless something happens very soon a very important part of the U.S. Government, the Department of Homeland Security could be forced to close at the end of the day Friday. This comes because while most of the government got a budget for the current fiscal year, The Powers That Be up on Capital Hill have decided to fight one of the president’s actions on undocumented immigrants. While I won’t pick sides (there’s enough mud to go around) I find myself wondering if perhaps we need a way to penalize our elected officials for wanting to force federal employees to work while the rest of DHS has to turn off their lights and lock their doors.

The public radio program On Point has a great discussion yesterday on the battle for DHS funding, but this week I’ve found myself wondering if things might be different if there were a mechanism to hit our elected officials in their wallet if DHS runs out of money. Like I said, I’m not going to assess blame on either side of the aisle on the Hill, because both sides are at fault (and the judge in Texas said there was a procedural basis for his ruling without even commenting on the basis of the suit). What I am saying is that if a budget for DHS doesn’t get passed in time (which seems incredibly impossible at this late date) thousands of federal workers will have to either stay home from work or go to work without the promise of even getting paid for their work. I’ve heard one TSA employee say that the last time the government shut down he missed two paychecks, and a second employee has said that if the department shuts down she’s not going to work without getting paid for it. Getting them retroactive pay won’t be automatic and there’s a legal risk of telling people they have essential jobs and have to show up at work, even with the possibility of not getting paid for their labor, or risk losing their jobs.

My ebook No Budget No Pay looks at the possibility of penalizing our elected officials if the entire government shuts down or doesn’t have a budget after the start of the fiscal year, but should there be a similar punishment if just part of the government shuts down like this? Let me know in the comments what you think.

If you haven’t seen my ebook yet you can find it in all the major ebook stores including Amazon, iBooksBarnes & NobleDieselKobo, and Scribd (all links are to their US stores), and of course you can get it directly from my distributor, Smashwords. If you buy it directly from Smashwords before 31 March you can use coupon code FM86A and get a 20% discount. Unfortunately that discount isn’t available at other stores that see my ebooks, but Smashwords will let you buy it once and get it in whatever format you need for all of your e-readers. That means you can buy it once and read it on your Android (including with Aldiko), iPad, Kindle, and even your desktop/laptop computer.

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