The most basic responsibility of Congress is deciding how much money our government takes in and how much it spends, but Congress has only passed spending bills on time four times since 1952, and it has been more than 1,000 days since Congress passed a concurrent budget resolution. Appallingly, Congress doesn't ever have the opportunity to discuss what our nation's priorities are and how much should be spent on them.

To change the incentive structure for Congress, a group to which I belong, No Labels, has put forth the idea: No Budget, No Pay! In its 12-point action plan, called Make Congress Work!, this is its point No. 1, and polling shows that 88% of Americans agree with it.

Bills to this end have already been introduced by the Senate by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada) and in the House by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tennessee), and both bills have numerous bipartisan co-sponsors. A hearing is already scheduled for the No Budget, No Pay Act on March 14 in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

I hope that others will join me in visiting nolabels.org right away to contact members of Congress to tell them to support this important bill.

Alice Selfridge

Huntington Beach

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Column on Bolsa Chica was much needed

Thanks so much for Chris Epting's excellent article ("The O'Reilly factor is at Bolsa Chica," In the Pipeline, Feb. 23). It is a huge issue at Bolsa Chica and one that deserves attention. The public just needs to know the rules and we are encouraged by this article. It will go a long way in helping promote the policy at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

Flossie Horgan

Huntington Beach

The writer is the executive director of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust.

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'Safe and sane' in name only

Words cannot describe how upset I am with the five City Council members that voted for the return of fireworks in Huntington Beach ("Council OKs lifting ban on fireworks' sale," Jan. 19). How can they do that? Doesn't the advice of the fire chief and the police chief mean anything to them? These folks are the experts that have to respond to the "accidental fires" thanks to irresponsible people using irresponsible fireworks. Why am I so upset? I will tell you why!

Around 1976 or 1977, a fireworks rocket missed my shake roof by about two feet and landed in my backyard fully blazing. It took me more than five minutes, using a hose, to put the fire out. If the rocket had landed on my shake roof, my house would have been history.

Starting the following year, about an hour before sunset, I would get on top of the roof of my two-story house, soak the roof really well and then spend the rest of the evening on top of the roof with the water hose ready. I was so happy when, in 1987, they made fireworks illegal in our beautiful city. And now, here we go again, the majority of the City Council acting totally irresponsibly and disregarding comments by the fire chief and police chief. And please, let's not use the excuse that we are only allowing "safe and sane" fireworks. First, there is no such thing, and second, and most important, we have enough irresponsible people in our city that will use the illegal variety if given permission to use fireworks.

A ban on fireworks makes it easy for police to track down users and stop them before we need the fire chief. If permission is given to use fireworks, you can be damn sure that a very small minority will also use the illegal variety, making it almost impossible for police to track them down. Please, please, please, listen to the experts, the police chief and the fire chief and do not allow fireworks in our beautiful city.

Edward J. Staros

Huntington Beach