By Mason Adams
U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte hopes the third time might be the charm with a proposed constitutional amendment to require the federal government to produce a balanced budget.
Last week he introduced the amendment, which requires that Congress not spend more than it receives in revenues, requires the president to submit a balanced budget to Congress, and requires a three-fifths majority vote to increase the debt limit. The amendment provides an exception during national emergencies.
Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, introduced the amendment in 2007 and 2009 as well, said spokeswoman Kathryn Rexrode. The amendment has been previously carried by others, and even passed the House in 1995 when carried by former Rep. Steve Largent, R-Okla., before falling just short in the Senate.
Forty-nine of 50 state governments, including Virginia's, have some sort of balanced budget requirement.
"Congress' spending addiction is not a partisan one," Goodlatte said in a news release. "It reaches across the aisle and afflicts both parties, which is why neither party has been able to master it. A balanced budget amendment to our Constitution will once and for all require Congress to rein in this out-of-control behavior."
Goodlatte also introduced a three-part constitutional amendment that would require that total spending for any fiscal year not exceed total receipts, require that bills to raise revenues pass each House of Congress by a three-fifths majority, and establish an annual spending cap such that total federal spending could not exceed 20 percent of the economic output of the United States. The bill would also require a three-fifths majority vote for any increases in the debt limit.
Constitutional amendments introduced in Congress must pass both houses by a two-thirds vote and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.
Both of Goodlatte's proposed amendments were sent to the House Judiciary Committee, where he sits as a senior member.
Because of Saturday's shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., which left the congresswoman wounded and six others dead, the House is not voting on any bills this week. It did, however, vote on a resolution Wednesday to honor those who were killed or wounded in the shooting. Goodlatte was among those who remained at the Capitol for that vote, Rexrode said.