Hoyer: ‘I will be whipping against’ balanced-budget amendment

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House minority whip, announced Wednesday that he’d marshal Democratic votes against the Republicans’ balanced-budget amendment when GOP leaders bring it to the floor next week.

The announcement is bad news for Republican supporters of the bill, who will need at least 48 Democratic supporters to reach the two-thirds majority in the House required to pass the measure.

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I strongly oppose Republicans’ proposed balanced-budget amendment, and I will be whipping against it, Hoyer said in a statement. 

By enshrining Republican policy priorities in the Constitution — and by making it historically difficult to raise revenue or raise the debt ceiling in order to pay our bills — the Republican amendment would impose severe hardship on millions of Americans.

Sponsored by GOP Reps. Bob Goodlatte (Va.) and Joe Walsh (Ill.), the balanced-budget proposal would require Congress to pass a balanced budget each fiscal year while capping federal spending at 18 percent of the GDP. Additionally, the bill would require two-thirds of Congress to hike taxes, and a three-fifths majority to increase the debt limit.

Supporters say its necessary to control annual deficit spending and reduce the national debt, which is fast approaching $14.3 trillion.

Adoption of the balanced-budget amendment would help ensure such spending restraints are set in stone, and the certainty it provides will help create a better environment for job creation across the country, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday.

Hoyer, however, warned that the new requirements would hobble popular entitlement programs, leaving beneficiaries high and dry.

It would require drastic and harmful cuts to programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, programs that form the heart of America’s social compact, Hoyer said.

Unlike previous balanced-budget amendments, this amendment would mean great pain for ordinary Americans, even as it shielded the most privileged from any comparable sacrifice. It is not a solution to our nation’s pressing fiscal challenges.”

The Senate also is expected to vote on a balanced-budget amendment next week.

Hundreds of labor organizations, human rights promoters and other advocacy groups said earlier Wednesday they were uniting to try to kill both balanced-budget amendments.