Former Ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley made waves at the Republican presidential debate Wednesday, blasting businessman Vivek Ramaswamy in a viral moment and calling for an end to lawmakers’ pay if they do not pass a budget on time.
“They don’t keep the government open, they should not get paid,” Haley said. “No pay, no budget…”
Haley blasted Congress, saying lawmakers have only passed four budgets on time in 40 years. The idea to withhold pay, which comes as Congress has just days to pass a spending measure or face a government shutdown, has been proposed before but stands on difficult Constitutional grounds.
The 27th Amendment to the Constitution likely limits U.S. lawmakers from altering members’ pay during a current session.
“No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened,” the 27th Amendment says.
Haley also went after Ramaswamy in a debate marked by chaos and candidates constantly talking over one another.
“Honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber,” Haley said in a testy exchange with Ramaswamy over his decision to use TikTok, an app banned on government devices for its use as spyware by the Chinese Communist Party.
“We can’t trust you,” she added.
Ramaswamy, who has vocally opposed TikTok, said he uses the app to reach younger Americans to help him win the election but ultimately wants to ban social media use for those under 16 years old.
“We would be better served as a Republican Party if we’re not sitting here hurling personal insults and actually have a legitimate debate,” Ramaswamy responded.
The candidates battled it out Wednesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Qualifying to take the stage Wednesday were the following candidates:
North Dakota Gov. Doug BurgumFormer New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantisFormer Ambassador Nikki HaleyFormer Vice President Mike PenceBusinessman and author Vivek RamaswamySen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who participated in the first debate, did not qualify this time around.
Former President Donald Trump, by far the GOP primary frontrunner in all polls, skipped this debate as he did the first debate a month ago. Instead, he spoke to the auto workers on strike at a rally that covered a range of topics.
“The only time Joe Biden has ever gotten his hands dirty is when he’s taking cash from foreign countries, which is quite often actually,” Trump told the workers Wednesday in a video he posted to Truth Social.
At the previous debate, DeSantis had an embarrassing viral moment where he appeared to look to his competitors to see their answers before giving an answer of his own. In the second debate, he landed more strong remarks without the viral mistake, though it will likely take more to close the large gap between himself and Trump.
During the last debate, Ramaswamy took most of the attention as others attacked him and he responded, helping bolster the relatively new candidate’s national recognition. Haley, who is roughly tied with Ramaswamy in polling, also was considered to have a good night. In this second debate, Haley tussled more with other candidates, including Scott.
Real Clear Politics polling average has Trump at 56.6% support, followed by DeSantis at 14.4%, Haley at 5.8% and Ramaswamy at 5.1%.
A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll released earlier this week in conjunction with Langer Research Associates showed that in a hypothetical 2024 matchup, President Joe Biden has 42% support behind Trump’s 51% support.