The Senate on Wednesday defeated each partys version of a constitutional amendment that would have required a balanced federal budget.

The rival proposals would have prohibited Congress from spending more each year than it receives in revenue.

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But each one fell well short of the two-thirds majority needed to send them to the states for ratification.

Republicans of every stripe, from Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulUnhappy senators complain about healthcare process Judd Gregg: For Trump, reaching out would pay off This week: ObamaCare repeal vote looms over Senate MORE (Ky.) to centrist Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), came down to the floor throughout Tuesday and Wednesday to express support for Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchGOP seeks to meet referee’s rules on healthcare repeal Hatch shares gif of dumpster fire: ‘Checking in on Dodd Frank’ Senate panel advances Trump's tax policy nominee MOREs (R-Utah) plan, arguing it represented the last chance to keep the United States from falling into the sort of crisis in which Europe is currently embroiled.  

We must prevent what’s happening in Europe from happening here, said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellMcCain returning to Senate in time for health vote Senate Dems launch talkathon ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote Overnight Healthcare: Trump pressures GOP ahead of vote | McConnell urges Senate to start debate | Cornyn floats conference on House, Senate bills | Thune sees progress on Medicaid MORE (R-Ky.) prior to the party-line 47-53 defeat of the GOP bill. That’s just what our balanced-budget proposal would do.

Although both proposals possessed characteristics associated with balanced-budget amendments, they differed by including rules regarding taxation designed to alienate members across the aisle.

The Democratic proposal, S.J.Res 24, would have prohibited Congress from lowering taxes on millionaires and would have created a lock box for the Social Security Trust Fund.


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Republicans dismissed it, prior to its 21-79 defeat, as a “cover” to allow Democrats to say they supported a balanced-budget amendment when they did not. 

It is a “weak alternative to the Republicans’ amendment,” concluded Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

The Republicans’ plan, S.J.Res.10, meanwhile, drew fire from Democrats for its provision to ban Congress from raising taxes without a two-thirds majority and for attempting to implement a cap on government spending of 18 percent of the gross domestic product.

Democrats said those riders turned the amendment into an unpalatable political document. 

“Balancing the books is a simple equation, yet Sen. Hatch’s proposal goes a number of steps further and seemingly tries to shrink government altogether,” said Sen. Mark UdallMark UdallDemocratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' MORE (Colo.), the author of the Democratic plan. 

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Several Democrats also voted against both bills, decrying the attempts to tamper with the Constitution over budgetary matters.

“I have never seen the solemn duty of protecting the Constitution treated in such a cavalier manner as it is today,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahySenate committee ignores Trump, House budgets in favor of 2017 funding levels Live coverage: Trump's FBI nominee questioned by senators AT&T, senators spar over customers' right to sue MORE (D-Vt.). “I wish those who so often say they revere the Constitution would show it the respect it deserves rather than treating it like a blog entry.”

The votes were called by Democratic leadership to fulfill the mandate from the summer’s debt-ceiling accords that both chambers debate and vote on a balanced-budget amendment.

The House in November voted 261-165 for a version of the amendment — a clear majority, but also short of the two-thirds needed to send the amendment to the states for ratification. The amendment was supported by 236 Republicans and 25 Democrats, while four Republicans and 161 Democrats opposed it.