Steve Daines Proposes to Withhold Congress Pay If It Cannot Balance a Budget

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) reintroduced legislation Tuesday that would stipulate that if Congress cannot pass a balanced budget, members of Congress will not get paid.

Daines said in a statement on Tuesday:

With runaway public debt now exceeding $27 trillion, we face a looming crisis. In fact, since I introduced this bill two years ago, our debt has increased by more than 30 percent. The American people depend on Congress to do its job. Folks at home balance their budgets, Congress should be able to do the same.

The Montana conservative, who was reelected in November, introduced the Balanced Budget Accountability Act. The legislation would stipulate that if Congress cannot pay a budget by April 15, the legally required date for Congress to pass a budget, members’ pay will be terminated.

Daines has introduced the legislation in each Congress since he was a member of the House of Representatives.

Daines’ legislation would encourage members of Congress to commit to the annual budgetary process rather than pass a continuing resolution at the last minute. The Montana conservative’s bill also would incentivize lawmakers to pass a budget that would balance the budget within ten years.

Congress has often failed to pass a budget on time or altogether.

The Tax Policy Center’s Leonard Burman noted last October that in 17 out of the last 46 years, the fiscal year has “started with zero appropriations bills completed.”

“Over that nearly half-century, Congress passed all its appropriations bills on time on only four occasions. The last time Congress did its job was 1997: Bill Clinton was president, the first Harry Potter book was published, and people were flocking to theaters to watch Titanic,” the tax policy expert added.

Daines argued that his bill would help bring accountability to a city that cannot manage its budget, unlike most Americans.

Daines said, “My bill, the ‘Balanced Budget Accountability Act’ will bring Montana values of commonsense and accountability to Washington.”