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Public Statements

Proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.J. Res. 2, the Republican plan to amend the Constitution to reduce government investments and codify economic stagnation.

We can all agree that it's important to get the Federal deficit under control. However, the amendment Republicans are proposing is absolutely the wrong way to do it. It should all be very familiar to anyone who has experienced California's budget problems or who has even observed them from afar. It should be familiar because, just like in California, this legislation would require that a supermajority of both the House of Representatives and the Senate agree to any bill which raises Federal revenues.

This not only means potential tax increases but also any bill that allows tax cuts to expire. In effect, the Republican majority is insisting that the only way the Federal Government can tackle its deficit is by reducing programs like Pell Grants, unemployment benefits, and infrastructure projects like Federal highways. These are the very programs that help people keep their heads above water during tough economic times or help them achieve the American Dream; and time and time again, the American people have said that cutting these programs is unacceptable.

I agree that we should look at ways to cut waste. However, it's foolish to insist on severe cuts to vital programs which help people during an economic downturn. Furthermore, the California experience has shown that it is practically impossible for 60 percent of a political body to agree on revenue increases, no matter how limited they are or how much sense they might make. California has tried this flawed plan; and guess what, it doesn't work. California's fiscal situation becomes increasingly difficult each year because of this supermajority requirement. Do we really want the same at the Federal Government level?

I cannot and will not support legislation which would impose California's flawed fiscal system on the Federal Government. I urge my colleagues to learn from history, from a real-life example, my home State of California, and reject this crushing and foolish amendment.


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