The Last Word | January 23, 2013
>>> with the passage of this bill today it is pretty clear that we're sending a message to the democrat-controlled senate, it is time to do your job. and the principle, i think, is pretty simple. no budget , no pay.
>> in the spotlight tonight, debt ceiling magic. that was house speaker john boehner after the house passed a bill making the debt ceiling disappear until may 18th , without cutting any federal spending. the stupidly named and conceived "no budget , no pay act" passed with a vote. 33 republicans voted against the bill, 199 voted for it. 86 democrats voted for the bill, 111 democrats voted against it. not only will the no budget , no pay act suspend the debt ceiling for about three months, it also requires the house and senate to pass budget resolutions by april 15th , and if they don't, representatives and senators will not get paid, which is of course, wildly unconstitutional. the 27th amendment prohibits congress from modifying their own paychecks in any way. they can vote to change the pay for future congress only, but republicans passing an unconstitutional bill, while at the same time relieving the pressure on the debt ceiling was welcomed by some democrats as republicans moving from out-right crazy to half-crazy.
>> i'm not sure what happened at the house republican retreat last week, but it sure had a mellowing effect on their members. maybe there were deep breathing exercises, soft jazz music . something happened. either way , we welcomed the outcome of their retreat. the bill represents a huge change on the debt ceiling issue, and hands the president his second major win in a month. and it shows that the republicans are in full-on retreat on fiscal policy .
>> joining me now, msnbc's ezra klein , ezra , i didn't see this one coming, did you?
>> i'm going to say i actually did. the day after the fiscal cliff, i said the republicans are going to fold o --
>> well, i don't mean fold, make --
>> make it go away?
>> this particular way of doing it.
>> well, i love the idea, i think the only problem with the suspend the debt ceiling and make it go away, is a three-month part, suspend it. but the no pay, is getting misreported. i imagine this is part of the 27th amendment you point out, it is not no budget , no pay. if they don't pass a budget they don't get paid until the final day of the session. it is no budget , you get paid later. but you get all of your money kept in an escrow account, all handed to you on the last day of the session. it is not the same as no budget , no pay. just one more thing about the bill that is not quite on the level.
>> and it is not actually a budget they're talking about. all they're talking about is each body talking about passing a resolution, which is not a law, and doesn't change anything. it is just a resolution, a promise to do something in the future. and the way they have written it, apparently ezra , if the senate passes one, then okay, the senate can get paid. if the house passes one then house members can get paid. but the 27th amendment very simply says no law varying the compensation of the services of senators and representatives shall take effect until the elected representatives shall have intervened. this varies their compensation. and i just want to play this video, we have to do this. of what john boehner said about their respect for the constitution. the new respect for the constitution that they were bringing to the house of representatives when they took over in 2011 . let's listen to this.
>> i mean, gone on the days when the constitution will be ignored. in this congress, there will be clear constitutional authority required, when members file bills.
>> remember that, ezra , they were supposed to file their bill and constitutional memo, saying why the thing was constitutional.
>> i do remember that, i went back to look to see if there was one, now i wish i had. you mentioned the point of the budget resolutions that both have to pass. there were two interesting things, one saying both democrats or republicans have to pass a one-page bill. but it is true the senate democrats haven't passed a full budget since 2009 . they argue that the 2011 budget -- i'm sorry, budget control act, acted as a budget for '11 and '12. but i think it is good. i think the elected representatives should tell us where their priorities lie. but the really thing that happened to the house republicans on the way to no budget , no pay, was that they agreed in order to get their more conservative members on board. to write a budget , paul ryan will write a budget that will balance inside of ten years. to give you an idea of how hard that is, his previous budget balanced around 38. so in order to get it over to ten years from now, you will have incredible cuts that will be very unpopular. i don't have any idea, i don't think they have any idea how they will do it.
>> but, they are not specified in the budget resolutions which are talked about in this bill. they are just budget resolutions to other jurisdictions, which is saying this is what we think you should do in terms of managing --
>> but the cap --
>> nothing real, all done in the reconciliation bill later, just a promise of we think we'll do it like this in the future. we'll have much more, thank you for joining us.
>>> thank you.
>>> coming up in the rewrite, the washington lobbyist who make makes sure our mass murderers are the best equipped mass murderers in the world, actually quoted a supreme court justice to make his argument about guns. what he did not mention was that that supreme court justice disagreed with the nra on the second amendment.