5 Better Ways For Congress To Punish Itself

Today the U.S. Congress will vote on an unconstitutional proposal to stop paying themselves a salary if the cannot get their act together. Surely there must be a better way to self-flagellate. Actually, there are at least five.

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J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE / AP

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and the House GOP leadership speak to reporters after a closed-door meeting on avoiding a potential debt crisis, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.

It has come to this: Later today, esteemed members of the U.S. Congress, the nation’s premier deliberative body, will vote on a proposal to stop paying themselves a salary if they cannot get their act together. Section 2 of H.R. 325 is called, “HOLDING SALARIES OF MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN ESCROW UPON FAILURE TO AGREE TO BUDGET RESOLUTION.” In some ways, this is an improvement over recent practice. For years, Congress has threatened calamity for the country, via the debt ceiling, sequestration and the fiscal cliff, if they failed to act. Now the nation’s elected leaders are now threatening calamity upon themselves.

The only potential problem is the U.S. Constitution, which states in the 27th Amendment, “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.” In other words, if Congress wants to change its pay, it has to wait until the next election for the change to take effect. House Republican leaders think by holding the pay in escrow they are not “varying the compensation,” but that is not really something for them to decide. Assuming a lawsuit, the question would go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But this is America, the land of the free, home of the brave, birthplace of the silly putty. Surely there must be a better way for Congress to self-flagellate without raising constitutional questions. To this end, we at Swampland would like to get the conversation going. So we now present a few other ways Congress can punish itself without violating the 27th Amendment.

1. BAN SMOKING WITHIN 500 FEET OF THE U.S. CAPITOL Okay, this one would mostly just punish one member of Congress. But he is a powerful one.

2. TAKE AWAY THE FREE CONGRESSIONAL PARKING AT DULLES AND REAGAN AIRPORTS Both of the airports nearby Washington have free Congressional parking lots. Denying this perk would be worse than torture for many members.

3. TURN OFF CLIMATE CONTROL AND BAN FOOT COVERINGS IN U.S. CAPITOL COMPLEX The windchill in Washington D.C. today is well below freezing. So turn off the heat in the U.S. Capitol complex and ban the wearing of shoes or socks.

4. REPLACE THE HOUSE GAVEL WITH A RUBBER CHICKEN Enough said.

5. SERVE ONLY ENSURE PLUS DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS IN THE CONGRESSIONAL CAFETERIA The Central Intelligence Agency fed this stuff to its high-value detainees undergoing harsh interrogation. Many of those prisoners cracked under the pressure. It might work again.

Don’t like these suggestions? Please make your own in the comments below.

27 comments
Arimathean
Arimathean

I sure love me some lateral thinking!

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

Take away their Viagra. See if they can screw anyone then.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

How about jail time for corruption related to kickbacks and lobbyist activity.

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

Institute a 5 (full) - day workweek, with NO weekend furloughs. Saturdays are for working groups and Sundays: TED talks and/or social events.  

Every three weeks: 3-day workweek plus long-weekend. 

#KeepEmInDC


fitty_three
fitty_three

How about a fib jar?  Anyone who lies has to pay $50,000 in cash on the spot.  Then, let the American people vote on what to spend it on. l

fitty_three
fitty_three

Or, how about we let the Republicans in the House arm themselves with whatever they want, no limits, then after they're seated, pop a paper bag and lock the doors?

grape_crush
grape_crush

Oh, that's easy. All sorts of stunts to pull...

- Suspend their Federal health insurance, forcing them to buy coverage on the open market as self-employed persons. Not only would that be sufficiently self-flagellating, but you'd stop hearing all the p*issing and moaning about the PPACA real quick.

- Hold the salaries of Congressional staffers in escrow pending an outcome. Sure, you'll get a number that will work for free (or have the means to weather the interruption in cash flow,) but Congress will pretty much come to a standstill if Representatives and Senators start having to do their own grunt work. Plus, it gets around that pesky Constitutional clause.

- Cut out all the amenities they've given themselves; cafeteria, gym, transportation...down to franking and telecommunications.


fitty_three
fitty_three

Or, how about whenever a Republican speaks a loud recording of cackling and quarreling ducks is played.

fitty_three
fitty_three

Or, how about every time a Republican threatens to hold the government hostage, he gets arrested for treason or inciting sedition?

fitty_three
fitty_three

How about banning Teabaggers from coming within 1,000 miles of reality?

Oh, wait...

tom.litton
tom.litton

How about we just don't vote for them anymore?

gysgt213
gysgt213

How about no senator or congressman can make any fund raising calls, raise any money or receive of any kind funds for their reelection nor can anyone do so on their behalf.

outsider
outsider

I like 4 and 5, personally. 


Make the senators ride with the public - no more exclusive elevator! 


Or, make them stay in the capital until a bill is passed, once presented. No going home. 


Force congress to donate all money received beyond their salary, to their constituents. That way they still make the cash, without violating the 27th amendment. 


Or they can donate it to charity. 

AfGuy
AfGuy

I'm game for the "lock them into the chamber and give them one mostly full Pot-a-Pottie to use" gambit.

Something similar has been suggested before.... the result coundn't stink more than present.

Diecash1
Diecash1

@kbanginmotown Interesting but it might be less damaging to keep them at home in their districts more often.  Less frequent attendance means that the idiots in the House can pass fewer pointless, inane, or damaging bills.  Perhaps we should only pay them when they're present in DC? 

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@53_3 Bankrupting them in a week is appealing, but what happens in week 3?

Ohiolib
Ohiolib

@53_3 Could work, but lock the doors before popping the bag. 

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

@grape_crush The health care debates would probably go quite a bit differently if congresscritters had to suffer through the same crap as the rest of us!

bobell
bobell

Redundant. It already sounds like that.

bobell
bobell

We could charge them with the nonviolent overthrow of United States governance.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@gysgt213  

But that would be against corruption and that's against the law!

Citizens United says so.