"This proposed amendment no more balances the budget than passing legislation to declare the Tooth Fairy is real," Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) said. "Saying it out loud doesn't make it true."

House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) sided with Democrats, and said he does not believe an amendment is needed to control spending and that he would vote against the bill.

But Republican supporters said there is little evidence Congress has the willpower to control spending. Congress spent much of this year working on an agreement to trim planned spending, which resulted in a cut of just $7 billion in discretionary spending in 2012 compared to 2011 levels.

"How can we stand up and look at people and say this Congress can fix it on its own?" Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) asked. "How can we look at people in the eye and say, you know what, just give us another chance, we've done so well over the last 30 years?"