Rep. Bob Goodlatte testified before the House Judiciary Committee's Constitution Subcommittee regarding the need for a Constitutional amendment requiring the federal government to balance its budget. The hearing was entitled "Whether the Constitution Should be Amended to Address the Federal Deficit?"
Rep. Goodlatte testified, "Experience has proven time and again that Congress cannot for any significant length of time rein in excessive spending. The annual deficits and the resulting debt continue to grow due to political pressures and dependency on government programs.
Budget plans that purport to cut spending over long periods of time are great goals, but in order to achieve the results these budgets promise, a majority of fiscally conservative Members must be elected into perpetuity. While it is one of my strongest desires that this will occur, we simply cannot afford to bet our children and grandchildren's future on this happening.
In order for Congress to be able to consistently make the very tough decisions necessary to sustain fiscal responsibility over the long term, Congress must have an external pressure to force it to do so.
I believe that the most realistic chance we have today to enact the institutional reform necessary is through a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution."
Rep. Goodlatte concluded, "We are at a crossroads in America. We can make the tough choices and control spending, paving the way for a return to surpluses and ultimately paying down the national debt, or we can allow big spenders to lead us further down the road of chronic deficits and leave our children and grandchildren saddled with debt that is not their own.
The choice is ours. The stakes are high. Failure is not an option."
On the opening day of the 112th Congress, Rep. Goodlatte introduced H.J. Res 1, a three part balanced budget amendment. Specifically this legislation would (1) amend the Constitution to require that total spending for any fiscal year not exceed total receipts; (2) require that bills to raise revenues pass each House of Congress by a 3/5 majority; and (3) establish an annual spending cap such that total federal spending could not exceed 1/5 of the economic output of the United States.
Additionally, Rep. Goodlatte introduced H.J. Res 2, a straight balanced budget Constitutional amendment, which has the support of a majority of the Members of the House of Representatives. Both H.J. Res 1 and H.J.Res 2 have been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, on which Rep. Goodlatte serves as a senior member.