Sense of Senate on balanced budget amendment falls short

The Senate on Wednesday fell short by two votes of passing a non-binding "sense of the Senate" resolution calling on Congress to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. 

The final vote was 58-40, with 60 votes needed to pass the amendment.

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Freshman Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) presented the amendment to patent-reform legislation earlier in the week and argued for it prior to the vote Wednesday afternoon.

“I don't think we have time to waste, time to wait, time to kick this can down the road anymore,” Toomey said. “We've done that too long. The fact is a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution would provide the kind of fiscal straitjacket that this government clearly needs.”

Floor manager for the Patent Reform Act, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT.), spoke out against the amendment but his criticism dealt with the way the freshmen senators used his bill as a delivery mechanism for their proposal.

Leahy said senators should show respect for the floor managers of bills by presenting germane amendments.

No other senators spoke out against the amendment.