Withhold pay for federal lawmakers without balanced budget, Daines says

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines on Jan. 8 introduced the Balanced Budget Accountability Act, which would reduce a portion of the annual pay of members of Congress when they fail to adopt a concurrent resolution on the budget.

“It’s long overdue that members of Congress are held accountable for their dysfunction in government funding,” Sen. Daines said. “Just like every hardworking Montana family and small business across this country – members of Congress shouldn’t get paid until they balance the budget.”

S. 44 would require federal lawmakers to commit to the annual budget process as required by law and approve budgets that balance within 10 years or they don’t get paid, according to a Jan. 8 statement from Sen. Daines’ office.

“Elected officials need to be accountable to the folks they serve and that starts with getting our fiscal house in order. Montana families balance their budgets, it’s unreasonable that Congress can’t do the same,” Sen. Daines said in January 2017 when he introduced the same-named S. 98 that month.

The senator also introduced the same measure during the 114th Congress and during the 113th Congress while he was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to his staff.
Most recently, Sen. Daines sought to withhold his pay during the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government.

“I believe all sides need to come together to enhance border security and reopen the government,” wrote Sen. Daines in a Jan. 5 letter sent to Secretary of the Senate Julie Adams. “Until that occurs and Border Patrol agents and other federal personnel again receive their paychecks, I think it would be inappropriate for me to receive my pay.”

U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) introduced the House version of the bill, H.R. 298, on Jan. 8, saying that “out-of-control spending [is] digging our country into a deeper hole.”

“Congress has to stop digging and show some fiscal discipline,” Rep. Gianforte said. “Just as members of Congress shouldn’t get paid during a shutdown, they shouldn’t get paid if they can’t balance the budget.”

S. 44 has been referred to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for consideration while H.R. 298 is under review by the U.S. House Administration Committee, the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee, and the U.S. House Rules Committee.