Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) today introduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that, if passed and ratified, would require Congress to annually pass a balanced budget and finally force the federal government to live within its means. Rep. Roby's proposed amendment would also require the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress on time before each fiscal year.
As Members of the House of Representatives took to the floor today to read the Constitution at length, Rep. Roby said making the nation's governing framework just one amendment longer could fundamentally change the direction of the country for the better.
"Hardworking, taxpaying Americans balance their family budgets every month," Rep. Roby said. "But, for the past four years, they've watched the federal government over-spend by more than $1 trillion. We're $16 trillion in debt. It's past time Congress and the President were Constitutionally required to balance the budget. A Balanced Budget Amendment would restore the fiscal common sense that regular Americans employ every day. It would also provide economic clarity and confidence for a country still struggling to create jobs."
The ongoing debate about the rate of federal spending and how to reduce the public debt underscores the need to build fiscal restraint into the our most basic governing code.
"Yesterday the President spent an hour lecturing Congress about "paying our bills.' Well, one great way to ensure you can always pay your bills is to never charge up more than you can afford. The spending reductions through entitlement reforms we've continued to seek are important and needed, but the long-term solution to our country's debt problem is requiring Washington politicians to pass a balanced budget every year."
The Balanced Budget Amendment would:
* prohibit federal expenditures from exceeding federal revenues within the same fiscal year and 20 percent of the gross domestic product for the preceding calendar year.
* require the President to, on time before each fiscal year, submit to Congress a proposed federal budget in which total outlays do not exceed total revenues received by the United States.
* have an exception for times of Congressionally-declared war and authorize suspension of prohibitions by concurrent resolution approved by a three-fifths vote of the Senate and a two-thirds vote of the House of Representatives.
Rep. Roby introduced a similar amendment in her first term. The House of Representatives demonstrated its ability to pass such an amendment in the last Congress as part of its efforts to reduce the debt, but the Senate failed to seriously consider the measure.
Constitutional Amendments require passage from both Houses of Congress with a two-thirds majority (290 Representatives, 67 senators) and ratification by three-fourths (38) of the states.