Daines Introduces First Bill: The Balanced Budget Accountability Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Steve Daines today introduced his first piece of Senate legislation, the Balanced Budget Accountability Act, to require that Congress passes a balanced budget – or members won’t get paid.

Montana Representative Ryan Zinke and House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Luke Messer have also introduced companion legislation in the House.

The Balanced Budget Accountability Act strengthens accountability in Washington and encourages members of Congress to commit to the annual budget process as required by law and pass budgets that balance within ten years.

If a balanced budget is not passed by April 15—the legal requirement for Congress to have passed a budget—members will see their pay terminated.

“Montanans deserve a balanced budget. Unfortunately, Washington remains unwilling to take the steps needed to get our country back on solid fiscal ground,” Daines stated. “The Balanced Budget Accountability Act reflects core principles that we’ve seen work in Montana: common sense business practices that protect hardworking taxpayers and making elected officials accountable for delivering results to the people they serve.”  

“It is past time for the federal government do what families all across this country do every day:  live within our means and balance our budget,” said Rep. Messer, Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee.  “This bill requiring a balanced budget or no pay for members will help do that. I encourage my colleagues to sign on to this legislation and hold ourselves accountable to the people who sent us to Washington.  Let’s work together to put our country back on the path to a healthy economy that creates more jobs and opportunity for all Americans.”

Daines’ bill is comparable to the first piece of legislation he introduced while serving in the House. In addition to implementing a “no balanced budget, no pay” principle, the Balanced Budget Accountability Act also establishes additional spending requirements and restrictions on tax increases.

The Balanced Budget Accountability Act is also cosponsored by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).


  • The bill cuts off member salaries after April 15 unless their respective chamber has passed a budget that balances within ten years (by Fiscal Year 2025).
  • Member pay would be suspended until their chamber passes a budget that meets the balanced budget requirement, or until the end of the Congress.
  • The bill would prohibits tax increases unless three-fifths of each chamber vote in favor of them.
  • The measure prohibits spending as a percent of GDP from exceeding 18% by FY 2025.
  • The bill locks into place the last permissible year to achieve balance (FY 2025) such that subsequent budgets would need to likewise achieve balance by that year. In other words, it bars a rolling ten years-to-balance metric.
  • Pursuant to the 27th Amendment, the bill holds members’ salaries in escrow until the end of the current Congress if their respective chamber does not meet the balanced budget requirement.
  • The bill would ensure that starting in 2017, members would receive only $1 per month after April 15 if their respective chamber doesn’t meet the requirement.