Balanced Budget Amendment Fails to Pass the House

On November 15, a House vote to add a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution failed by a vote of 261-165. The vote fell short of the 291 votes needed to send the amendment on to the states for ratification.

Bringing a vote on a balanced budget amendment (BBA) in both the House and Senate was agreed to as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that resulted from the debt ceiling crisis. A Senate vote has yet to be scheduled.

The House proposal was supported by 236 Republicans and 25 Democrats, with 4 Republicans and 161 Democrats opposing the measure. The House resolution (HJ Res 2) would have required a supermajority to increase the debt limit and just a simple majority vote to raise taxes.

Many Republicans were hoping for a more conservative version of the amendment which would have included a federal spending cap and a provision that would have included a supermajority vote for tax increases. In fact, one notable Republican “no” vote against the BBA was cast by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan who was concerned that the BBA was not conservative enough. Ryan remarked; “I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes. Spending is the problem, yet this version of the BBA makes it more likely taxes will be raised, government will grow and economic freedom will be diminished. Without a limit on government spending, I cannot support this amendment.”

Democrats, on the other hand, argued that a BBA was not necessary citing the success of the Democrats in balancing the budget during the 1990s.

With the defeat of the BBA in the House, and the pending failure of the Supercommittee to reach a deal on reducing the deficit, will we ever get Washington’s spending binge under control? Don’t forget, it’s been well over 900 days since the Senate has agreed to even having a federal budget!

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