On Friday the House voted on a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the Constitution, which was nearly identical to the version that the House passed in 1995 but failed the Senate by one vote in 1997. The final vote was 261 to 165, but was not the two-thirds required to pass (H.J.RES.2). Only 25 Democrats joined all but four Republicans to support the measure.
I am disappointed that the BBA did not pass. I believe a balanced budget amendment makes a lot of sense and is the sort of real reform needed to change the way Washington operates. The amendment we considered is simple: it would require that Congress does not spend more than is taken in unless three-fifths of both the House and Senate approve additional spending. Additionally, it makes provisions for a serious national security emergency that might require a temporary spending increase.
Spending pledges, caps, and other commitments are temporary. What one Congress cuts, the next can always un-do. This legislation would force Washington to balance its checkbook, like most Americans do. It would also stabilize the budget from year-to-year by requiring the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress. And it would prevent another increase in the debt limit unless three-fifths of House and Senate Members approve the increase by public vote. To read more about this bill, please click here.
Founding Father Thomas Jefferson was the first to suggest a balanced budget amendment. While the concept is not new, it is straightforward. Currently, the vast majority of states, including Texas, abide by some form of a balanced budget requirement. It is time Washington does the same.
Polls indicate that a strong majority of Americans continue to support a Balanced Budget Amendment. So while this bill was not perfect, it would have represented a giant leap toward getting our fiscal house in order and getting our nation headed back in the right direction. We cannot keep kicking the can down the road. The time to take significant and enforceable steps toward fiscal responsibility is now.
I am always interested in your feedback and your suggestions on this issue or any other that matters to you. I hope you will contact me with your opinion via phone, email, letter, website, or Facebook.