In my meetings with constituents during my first few weeks in office, one consistent theme has emerged time and again: "Do your job. Stop the constant political fighting, work together to find common-sense solutions and do what we pay you to do."
The people pay members of Congress to manage the government responsibly. Yes, the White House and the Senate are controlled by Democrats and the House by Republicans. Citizens know the age-old debates about the proper size and scope of the government will continue unabated -- as it should be.
In the meantime, however, they expect us to work together on the basics, like passing a budget.
The government has run up a crushing federal debt of $16.4 trillion and rising -- a debt as large as the entire U.S. economy; it's unprecedented. The massive overspending continues at such a frantic pace that nearly 40 cents of every dollar spent by the federal government is borrowed -- and most of it from China.
In this year alone, another trillion dollars will be added to America's debt.
The Senate and House are required by law to pass a budget. The House has passed responsible budgets that control spending and foster an environment for economic growth that will help create jobs.
They will also ensure that future generations won't have to confront the burden of crushing debt we're mounting for them. If we act now, and if we act responsibly, future generations may still have the same opportunities we did. We owe them at least that much.
Yet it's been almost four years since the Democratic-controlled Senate has passed a budget. In fact, the last time the Senate passed a budget the iPad didn't even exist. During this time, the Senate has voted twice on President Obama's budget proposals; both of which were so far out of the mainstream that they didn't receive a single vote.
That's why last week the House passed the "No Budget, No Pay" bill with overwhelming bipartisan support. This bill gives the Senate and House three months to pass a budget; if they fail to do so, members won't get paid until a budget is passed.
Mechanics are paid when they fix cars, nurses when they take care of patients and teachers when they educate students. If they don't do their jobs, they don't get paid. So why should it be any different for members of Congress?
Passing a budget matters to hard-working taxpayers in every corner of our district -- to seniors in Gettysburg who rely on their benefits each month, to middle-class families in York who can't afford an increase in taxes, and to our children in Harrisburg whose futures will be limited if Washington doesn't start living within its means.
This is no different than every family and small business must do with their own budgets.
Unfortunately, the Senate has been unwilling to meet one of the most basic functions of government. It's hard to work together on the budget when you're the only one who's working. Senate leadership has been content to sit back and criticize the House for trying to tackle this crisis. That may be "good politics," but it's terrible public policy and further endangers every American with each passing day.
It's time for the Senate to do its job: Pass a budget. I'm willing to work with anyone, regardless of political party affiliation, to help end America's trillion-dollar deficit; but to put our country back on a sustainable path we need the Senate to act.
-- Rep. Scott Perry rep resents Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District.