Washington (CNN) – Congress just got one more incentive to find a compromise over government spending before the standoff leads to a government shutdown.
The Senate passed a bill by unanimous consent late Tuesday that would withhold pay for members of Congress and the president if a government shutdown were to happen.
Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Barbara Boxer of California introduced the bill last week, arguing that if a standoff over government spending leads to a government shutdown, politicians should "feel the pain," too.
"We have to take steps to make sure that elected officials here are living by the same rules as everyone else," Casey said during a news conference last Thursday.
During the news conference the two senators made a point of highlighting various reports that said Republicans were not ruling out a possible shutdown.
The specter of a government shutdown has been hanging over the current debate on a government spending bill. The funding measure expires March 4, and if the two parties can't come to an agreement on spending cuts before then, a short term measure to keep the government running would need to pass to avoid a government shutdown.
Members of Congress and the president fall under mandatory spending, and their paychecks would not be affected in the case of a shutdown, according to Sens. Boxer and Casey. Under their proposal, that loophole would close. Additionally, the legislation would not allow back pay for lawmakers and the president for any days worked during a shutdown.
"If the government is forced to shut down, members of Congress and the president should be treated the same way as all other federal employees," said Boxer. "We should not be paid, and to take it one step further, we should not be paid retroactively once the government reopens."
"We should feel the pain," Boxer said, "and we hope that this is such a simple piece of legislation, it's so fair, that it will wake people up."