WASHINGTON -- Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Rand Paul might not see eye-to-eye on every issue, but the two former presidential candidates agree that it's a bad idea to withhold lawmaker pay because of government shutdowns.
The senators from Utah and Kentucky spoke up against the latest "No Budget, No Pay" proposal -- this one from Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., as well as a similar offering from Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona -- during a meeting of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
Romney noted that wealthy members like Scott and himself really would not see the effects of delayed paychecks, leading Sinema to quip, "We're all just moving into your house."
"You're welcome," Romney said. "Which one?"
But the discussion got far more serious from there.
"I'm very concerned about the precedent that we set of not paying members of Congress for votes they might take. I just think we have to ask ourselves if we want to start using pay to put pressure on people to vote a certain way, and have people make their decisions in part on getting more money for themselves," Romney said. "Getting their pay so they can stay in their apartment or buy their food."
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"I think this creates a two-tiered system where the wealthy members won't be affected by this at all. You know, one member of Congress from my state donates his whole salary and doesn't need his salary at all and there are other middle-class members who this will affect," Paul said. "So, I think in the end you'll get a two-tiered system where the wealthy members will vote however they want to and you'll put extra pressure on those who are middle class."
Both Paul and Romney also expressed concern about withholding the pay of all members of Congress when there is really only a handful of members of leadership and committee chairmen negotiating final agreements on spending bills.
Members of the Homeland Security panel eventually voted to add the "No Budget, No Pay" language to a separate bill that would implement automatic continuing resolutions and restrict travel by members of Congress, congressional staff and officials of the executive branch.
Adoption of the Scott amendment came despite the objection of Republican Chairman Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who argued that the contentious amendment could imperil the underlying bill.