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Public Statements

Proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BARTON of Texas. I thank the gentlelady from Alabama for her chairmanship of this historic debate, and I thank the gentleman from Virginia for his leadership and his willingness to yield me time.

Madam Speaker, in January 1985, I held up my right hand, and I held my 2-year-old daughter in my left hand as I stood right out here in front of the podium and took the oath to be the Congressman of the Sixth Congressional District of Texas. As soon as I was sworn in, I signed my first bill and put it right over there in the hopper--the Tax Limitation/Balanced Budget Amendment.

The total public debt that year was less than $5 trillion. In January of 1995, I took the oath of office and then led the debate on the Contract with America balanced budget amendment. We actually had two votes that day--one on the Tax Limitation/Balanced Budget Amendment, which got about 260-something votes, and then we came back and voted on a balanced budget amendment without the tax limitation provision, and it passed and went to the Senate.

The public debt that day was a little under $8 trillion. Today, the public debt is $15 trillion--$10 trillion more than in January of 1985 and $7 trillion more than in January of 1995.

How many years do we have to stand here and bemoan the fact that we need more courage or more this or more that and then pile up more public debt?

The annual deficit this year, the deficit in 1 year, is more than the total Federal budget was in 1985--the total budget.

I want to thank Mr. Goodlatte for bringing this bill forward. I want to thank the Republican leadership for putting it on the floor.

We owe $15 trillion, Madam Speaker, and we're going to borrow another $1.5 trillion. Let's stop the madness. Let's vote for this amendment and send it to the Senate.


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