Conservatives want brakes put on balanced-budget amendment

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He said that NTU is worried that the leadership, by focusing on near-term cuts to the budget rather than a Constitutional amendment, are being “dismissive” of any idea that enjoys broad public support. By failing to publicize the Judiciary markup, leadership appeared to be “actively undermining” the amendment, he said.

“It needs a fair hearing, one that isn’t cynical,” he said.

NTU would like to see a floor vote before the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling, once NTU and other grassroots groups have built a campaign for passage. He acknowledged that it will be an uphill battle to get support in both House and Senate.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said he also wants to see it brought to the floor when it can pass.

“I would actually say we need to bring it to the floor when we have the best chance to win. For me that’s the key. My gut tells me that might be closer to whenever we get to some kind of ultimate vote [on the debt limit deal],” he said.

RSC spokesman Brian Staessle also said that the vote should be held in conjunction with the debt ceiling increase.

"We want the House and Senate to pass this [amendment], along with immediate cuts and statutory caps. So our position is to tie them together," he said.

The amendment as passed in committee requires that outlays for any fiscal year equal total receipts for that fiscal year unless three-fifths of each house of Congress override this requirement. It stipulates that the debt limit cannot be raised and taxes cannot be increased unless there are a three-fifths votes in each house.

It contains waivers for declarations of war and military threats, if a majority of each House agrees on such a waiver.

“If we want to make permanent cuts to federal spending — cuts that cannot be undone by future Congresses — a constitutional amendment is the only answer. It is our last line of defense against Congress’s constant desire to overspend and overtax,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said in a statement.

Democrats decried the amendment as written since it would require supermajority votes to raise revenue but not to cut taxes.

“The Balanced Budget constitutional amendment that passed the House Judiciary Committee today is a Trojan Horse for the Republican budget that ends the Medicare guarantee while protecting tax earmarks for corporate special interests and expanding tax breaks for millionaires. The amendment is designed to make it easier to reduce the deficit by slashing Medicare benefits than by closing tax loopholes for private jets," Budget Committee ranking member Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said.


Russell Berman contributed.