Dems Block Passage of Balanced Budget Amendment

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.


Fortunately the House was not able to raise the 2/3rd majority needed to pass this Constitutional Amendment.  Don't get me wrong, I am not against a balanced budget amandment.  But this one was poorly written. Repubublicans supported Cut, Cap and Balance.  This bill left out two of the three and went staight to balance.

To balance a budget there are two ways to get there.  Cut spending or raise revenues.  This bill would have allowed future Congresses to balance the budget on the backs of the American Taxpayer by raising taxes, not by the Conservative principle of cutting excessive spending and reducing the size and scope of government.

This bill was wrong on many levels and I for one, am glad it failed.  For more information on why this failure was a good thing, please read today's article by Shirley Spellerberg, "Fortunately a Balanced Budget Amendment Failed to Pass in the House."

Republicans in Congress MUST stick to conservative principles and not try to pull a fast one over on the American people.  Congressman Smith, I look forward to your response.



Thank you, Bob, for your insight and understanding of the disastrous results had this GOP leadership-supported BBA passed.
It appears that the Republicans, at the urging of Speaker Boehner, and other leaders, wanted to take credit for having 'tried' to pass any BBA--workable or not.
The general public is frustrated with the out-of-control federal spending and are looking for a 'quick fix' to the economic mess we are in. Even if the BBA had passed, it is no answer in the short term (or long term) for our financial crisis. It could take years for any BBA, good or bad, to be ratified by 3/4 of the states. America is on the brink of bankruptcy right now and time is fast running out! Politics as usual, the 'go along to get along' mentality embraced by so many Republicans and Democrats is primarily our problem--not a solution! Give us some members of congress with courage to stand for right principle--not a bunch of pussyfooters afraid to take a stand! Hope voters will not base their votes on candidates' promises to pass a BBA!
Shirley Spellerberg

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