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Public Statements

Proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PENCE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I rise today in support of H.J. Res. 2, a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This is a challenging time in the life of our Nation. Our economy is struggling under the failed economic policies of the recent past and under a mountain range of debt. We have an unchecked, spendthrift Federal Government that's placing a burden of insurmountable debt on our children and grandchildren. Washington, D.C. isn't just broke, it's broken. And the time has come to change the way we spend the people's money. And to do that in our national charter, the time has come for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

I want to take a moment to commend just a few people who brought us to this day. I want to commend Speaker Boehner and the Republican leadership for ensuring that for the first time in 15 years we would have an up-or-down vote in the House and in the Senate on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

But I also want to commend the gentleman from Virginia, Congressman Goodlatte, who throughout those last 15 years has been, as we say back home, like a dog with a bone on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. His tenacity, his commitment to this reform, not singularly but predominantly, has brought us to this day, and I commend him from my heart.

Our Nation is sinking in a sea of debt. Just this week, we passed $15 trillion in national debt. And the American people are tired of the same old arguments. They want solutions, not slogans. They want reforms, not rhetoric. The balanced budget amendment to the Constitution is an authentic, long-term solution to runaway Federal spending, deficits, and debt by both political parties.

The measure we bring to the floor today is a bipartisan measure. It is nearly identical to the version that last passed the House with bipartisan support. It requires simply that the Federal Government not spend more than it takes; it requires a three-fifths vote to raise the Nation's debt ceiling; and it requires any increase in taxes by a true majority rollcall vote.

Now, while I support this historic version, this bipartisan version of the balanced budget amendment, I do regret it doesn't go further. I would that we had brought a version of the balanced budget amendment to the floor that included a cap on Federal spending, strict limits on the judiciary, and a higher hurdle for Congress to raise taxes on the American people.

But while this version of the balanced budget amendment doesn't have everything I want, I believe it will move the debate forward.

Adding to our national charter the expectation of the American people that this national government live within its means, that the income meet the outgo, would be a historic addition.

So I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan version of the balanced budget amendment. Let's send it to the Senate by the requisite supermajority, and then let's let the States decide whether the time has come to put in our national charter the requirement that this government live within the means of the American people.


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