Omar Villafranca, NBC 5 News
While campaigning in Iowa, Gov. Rick Perry outlined his plan to change Washington including cutting pay to congressional leaders and end lifetime appointments for federal judges.
Gov. Rick Perry thinks Congress is out of touch, overpaid and overstaffed. Luckily, he has a plan to help congressional leaders with their little problem.
Perry unveiled his "Uproot and Overhaul Washington" plan Tuesday in Iowa. The plan would cut the salaries of congressmen and senators in half.
Perry said the plan would essentially push for the representatives to spend more time in their districts. Perry's proposal would also slash staff budgets for congressional leaders.
"I happen to believe that it's time to create a part-time Congress," he said.
But Perry's plan didn't just stop on Capitol Hill.
His broad proposal would include changes to the judicial branch by ending lifetime appointments for federal judges, including Supreme Court justices.
"Part one of my plan is to reform the federal judiciary by ending term limits, or I should say putting term limits ... on unelected federal judges," Perry told an Iowa crowd. "Too many federal judges rule with impunity from the bench, and those who legislate from the bench shouldn't be entitled to a lifetime appointment to the judiciary."
A constitutional amendment would be required to eliminate lifetime appointments for federal judges. They are allowed, under the Constitution, to hold office during "good behavior" -- interpreted to mean for the rest of their lives, unless they voluntarily step down.
Perry's plan would also eliminate the departments of Education, Commerce and (insert debate joke here) Energy, as well as shuffling and restructuring other branches of government.
Perry said the plan would change Washington, and he's also hoping it changes the course of his sagging presidential campaign.
But not everyone in Congress likes the plan to drastically slash budgets on Capitol Hill.
"With all due respect to Gov. Perry, he has not served in the House or the Senate," U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas. "This isn't his area of expertise."
Burgess said there is room to cut, but noted that the U.S. House budget was cut by 5 percent this year and will be cut by 6 percent next year.
Burgess said cutting budgets drastically hurts constituent services provided by the staff of representatives and senators.
"We have to strike a balance," Burgess said of cuts.
The five-term representative also said Perry's drastic cuts could have unintended consequences, especially if slashed salaries require representatives to get another job to supplement their income.
"I didn't come to Congress to make money. I made more money as a doctor," said Burgess, who received his medical degree from UT Medical School in Houston. "Do we just want people who are independently wealthy as members of Congress?"
It's worth noting that Burgess is publicly backing Newt Gingrich's campaign for president. Gingrich has seen a recent rise in the polls and met with Burgess during Gingrich's trip to Dallas last month.
"I looked pretty brilliant, didn't I?" Burgess joked when asked about backing Gingrich before his rise in the polls.
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