Dems Block Passage of Balanced Budget Amendment
by Lamar Smith on November 18, 2011 at 5:23 PM
House Democrats today blocked passage of a constitutional amendment that would have required the federal government to balance its budget. H.J. Res. 2, a proposed Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, was introduced by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and has 241 Republican and Democrat cosponsors. Unfortunately, a majority of House Democrats voted against the measure, preventing the House from getting the two-thirds majority vote required for passage. The final vote was 261-165.
As House Judiciary Committee Chairman, I managed the floor debate and urged my colleagues to restore fiscal responsibility to the government by supporting the measure.
The federal debt has climbed from less than $400 billion in 1970 to over $15 trillion today. The federal government now borrows 42 cents for every dollar it spends. No family, no community, no business, no country can sustain that kind of excessive spending. That is the road to insolvency.
President Obama has set the wrong kind of new record. The national debt has increased faster under his administration than under any other president in history. This runaway government spending paralyzes the job market, erodes confidence among America’s employers and has caused the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression.
We must solve our debt crisis to save our future. We need a constitutional mandate to force both the President and Congress to adopt annual budgets that spend no more than the government takes in. Only a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment will save us from unending federal deficits.”
The last time the budget was balanced was during the Clinton administration, when Republicans in Congress passed the first Balanced Budget Amendment in over 25 years. Unfortunately, the measure was not adopted for future congresses, falling just one vote short of the two-thirds majority required in the Senate.
Forty-nine states have some form of a balanced budget requirement.
H.J. Res. 2 requires that Congress not spend more than it receives in revenues unless a supermajority of three-fifths of both the House and Senate vote to provide otherwise. The Amendment also requires a three-fifths majority of both chambers to raise the debt ceiling and requires the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress. H.J. Res. 2 provides for a limited exception in times of war and serious military conflicts.