Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, who has been a leading advocate for restoring fiscal discipline in the 111th Congress, today announced her co-sponsorship of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. Rep. Kirkpatrick is supporting House Joint Resolution 78 to make Washington address our country's fiscal challenges before they cripple our economy.
The Congresswoman has been arguing throughout her first term that the federal government needs to aggressively reduce spending levels to combat a $1.4 trillion budget deficit and a $13.3 trillion national debt. For FY2010, she supported billions in cuts to appropriations bills and voted against two that increased spending on government operations as part of her "Do More With Less" Initiative, and just last week she introduced an amendment to slash $3.37 billion from the FY2011 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.
Rep. Kirkpatrick pointed to Congress's inability to secure these cuts as demonstrating the need for decisive action to change the consequence-free spending culture in Washington. This constitutional amendment will mean the House and Senate will no longer be able to avoid this pressing issue.
"Our country is heading towards a disastrous fiscal crisis. Everyone seems to understand that except the federal government -- which has failed again and again to take common-sense steps to get us back on course," said Rep. Kirkpatrick. "A constitutional amendment will force Washington to make the tough choices to get our fiscal house in order, whether they have the political courage for it or not. They have made it clear that they cannot be trusted to do it otherwise."
The amendment would compel the President to submit and Congress to produce a balanced budget every fiscal year, and prohibit the federal government from spending more than it takes in. The only exceptions would be during wartime to prevent our military from being burdened, for paying interest on the debt or if three-fifths of each House of Congress are willing to support a specific deficit-spending measure in an up-or-down floor vote.
If ratified, the proposed amendment would take effect in 2021 and push Members to start reducing spending and taking steps to balance the budget before it comes into action.
"Greater Arizonans find ways to balance their family budgets even in the toughest times. They have every right to expect the federal government to do the same with their taxpayer dollars," said Rep. Kirkpatrick. "With this strict requirement, Congress and the White House will have to start following their example."
Rep. Kirkpatrick has earned national attention for her efforts to promote fiscal balance. She introduced a bill that would cut congressional pay by five percent -- in what would be the first Member salary reduction in 77 years -- to make senators and representatives lead by example in these tough times. She has been fighting to move the Taking Responsibility for Congressional Pay Act forward, arguing that Members will be better able to demand the rest of the federal government cut if they first make sacrifices of their own.
Rep. Kirkpatrick's other efforts include standing up against the President and House leadership to oppose every single bailout considered by Congress in her first term. She was one of the earliest voices calling for repaid bank bailout money to be used to pay down the debt and is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill to put her plan into practice. The Congresswoman has also supported measures to re-establish the statutory "pay-as-you-go" requirement for Congress and was part of a bipartisan coalition that fought to give the independent debt and deficit reduction commission the power to get their critical job done. She sharply criticized the White House's FY2011 budget proposal and opposed a $1.9 trillion increase in the debt ceiling.