Today, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) cosponsored legislation that will call for a Constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget. The legislation is a key component of Murphy's continued efforts to get our nation's fiscal house back in order; the amendment currently has 33 original cosponsors.
"Bucks families live by balanced budgets every day, and the government should play by the same rules," said Rep. Patrick Murphy. "This amendment is a key step to bringing fiscal discipline back to our country. While it's only one step in many that must be taken, Congress must get serious about getting our nation's fiscal house in order."
Specifically, this amendment would:
* Require Congress to produce a balanced budget every fiscal year;
* Require the President to submit a balanced budget in his or her annual transmission to Congress;
* Prohibit outlays for a fiscal year from exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year unless Congress, by a three-fifths roll call vote of each House, authorizes a specific excess of outlays over receipts (in cases of emergencies, for instance); and
* Protect Social Security benefits, ensuring that our most vulnerable are not subject to a reduction in their guaranteed benefits when they need them the most.
Balancing the budget is an attainable goal, and has been accomplished before. From 1998-2001, our country achieved balanced budgets through adherence to "Pay-As-You-Go" (PAYGO) standards, limits on discretionary spending, sensible tax policies, and investments in smart, pro-growth policies. Forty-nine states currently require an annual balanced budget, and an amendment to the Constitution will finally hold the federal government to the same standard. The recent enactment of PAYGO is a good first step to achieving balanced budgets, but a balanced budget is an even firmer, more concrete way to ensure that government lives within its means.
For a Constitutional amendment to become law, two-thirds of both houses of Congress must pass the amendment. After passage, three-fourths (or 38) of the states must agree to the amendment by either approving it through their legislatures or by a ratifying convention. This amendment sets the time period for state ratification at seven years. The last time a balanced budget amendment was seriously considered was in 1995, when it passed the House but failed by a single vote in the Senate.