Many of the responses I’ve gotten to my article on the Republican plan to use the debt ceiling as leverage to force Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to pass a budget have been along these lines: If it is against the law for Congress not to pass a budget (and it is), and if Harry Reid is violating that law (and he is), then why can’t something be done about it? Why can’t Reid be charged with something? Or perhaps a lawsuit be brought?
The answer is the law requiring Congress to pass an annual budget, the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, doesn’t have an enforcement mechanism. Lawmakers are required by law to pass a budget each year by April 15, but there’s no provision to punish them, or even slightly inconvenience them, if they don’t. In Reid’s case, the Senate last passed a budget in April 2009, 1,351 days ago as of Wednesday.