Most members of Congress agree that their colleagues should make it their business to vote. It’s what they were elected to do. And it’s why U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany may get the support he needs for his “No Show, No Pay Act.” The Lafayette Republican wants to dock members for missing votes, unless they have a good reason to do so.
Squarely in Boustany’s sights is fellow Rep. Jeff Landry of New Iberia, who has missed more than 10 percent of all roll-call House votes and another four votes Monday and Tuesday — in part because Landry has been out raising money and campaigning against Boustany. The two face off in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District in November.
“Serving as a member of Congress is not a part-time job,” Boustany said in a statement. “The primary duty of a member of Congress is to advocate on behalf of its constituency by casting important votes. Some of my colleagues take their office for granted and refuse to accept this responsibility. They habitually miss important votes on key policy initiatives and legislation by leaving early or arriving late in order to attend fundraising and campaign events.
“This bill discourages these offenders from dodging their Constitutional duty by holding them accountable to their constituency."
If Boustany's bill passes, a member who misses a single vote would not receive pay for that entire day. He says the legislation will improve transparency and accountability by requiring the House to provide an online list of members who are absent each month. Cumulative deductions for absences of each member will be posted online.
Landry was quick to fire off a response:
“In what could only be a political ploy, Boustany is now claiming — after nearly a decade in Congress — he wants to do something about Congressional pay, tying it to votes in Congress.
I wish Charles had been absent the times he voted to raise the debt ceiling, bail out banks, and allow his salary to increase.
I declined special Congressional healthcare and retirement benefits, while Charles sits back and takes them. I am cosponsoring legislation to permanently strip Congressmen of their pensions. I have cosponsored legislation to deny pay for Members of Congress until we pass a budget. I have never, and will never, vote to increase my pay — even with a procedural vote.
Charles may attempt to distract from the fact he voted to allow his pay to increase and he is accepting special Congressional healthcare and retirement benefits however, when it comes to reform, the voters know who they can trust… me.”