SPONSORED:

Republicans see balanced budget amendment as potent campaign weapon

Republicans see balanced budget amendment as potent campaign weapon

Senate Republicans are planning a new push for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution when lawmakers return to Washington after the August recess.

GOP Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: 'I accept the results of the election' Juan Williams: The GOP's losing bet on Trump Pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood causes headache for GOP in key S.C. race MORE (S.C.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWill the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Republicans have dumped Reagan for Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (Ariz.) and Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnDHS establishes domestic terror unit within its intelligence office Wasteful 'Endless Frontiers Act' won't counter China's rising influence Congress brings back corrupt, costly, and inequitably earmarks MORE (Okla.) will lead the charge in the fall, when Democrats plan to debate raising taxes on families that earn more than $250,000 a year.

ADVERTISEMENT
It’s the latest campaign in a crusade that conservatives have waged for two decades.

They believe the proposal, which came within one vote of passing Congress in 1995, will gain new political traction in the weeks before the election, when federal deficits are a chief concern of many voters.

“We’ll bring that back between now and the election,” DeMint, chairman of the Senate Republican Steering Committee, told The Hill.

In February, the lawmakers introduced a resolution to establish a balanced budget amendment; DeMint reintroduced it last week so that he could bring it straight to the floor after the recess.

“In the last week there’s been a lot of movement in terms of Republican senators saying we need to press this issue,” said a Senate GOP aide.

The amendment would bar the federal government from spending more than it collects in revenues each year. It would also require a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber to raise taxes.

A balanced budget amendment has polled well in several Senate battlegrounds, according to a Republican strategist familiar with internal polling.

The Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday that the federal deficit reached $1.2 trillion after the first 10 months of the fiscal year.

Republicans captured Congress in the 1994 midterm election by campaigning on the need for a balanced budget amendment when the federal deficit was only $203 billion.

A slew of Republican candidates in strong positions to join the Senate next year have endorsed amending the Constitution.

They are Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP lawmaker calls for Wuhan probe to 'prevent the next pandemic' All congressional Democrats say they have been vaccinated: CNN Fauci on Rand Paul: 'I just don't understand what the problem is with him' MORE in Kentucky, Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio wants 'UFO sightings' to be registered, taken seriously Strange bedfellows: UFOs are uniting Trump's fiercest critics, loyalists Second suspected 'Havana Syndrome' case near White House under investigation: report MORE in Florida, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Ken Buck in Colorado, Sharron Angle in Nevada, Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Energy: Colonial Pipeline says it has restored full service | Biden urges people not to panic about gasoline shortages | EPA rescinds Trump-era cost-benefit rule Senate panel advances Biden's deputy Interior pick Hillicon Valley: Global cybersecurity leaders say they feel unprepared for attack | Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan | Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech MORE in Utah, Dino Rossi in Washington and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court sides with oil companies in Baltimore case| White House environmental justice advisers express opposition to nuclear, carbon capture projects | Biden administration to develop performance standards for federal buildings Sunday shows - Cheney removal, CDC guidance reverberate Ron Johnson calls cyber attacks an 'existential' threat following Colonial Pipeline shutdown MORE in Wisconsin.

A GOP strategist familiar with internal polling in some of these races says that surveys show strong public support for a balanced budget amendment, exceeding 65 percent in at least one race.

Republican aides acknowledge they have virtually no chance of passing an amendment this year, when Democrats control 59 Senate seats and a large majority in the House.

But they say a debate this fall could set the groundwork for next year, when Congress is expected to debate the recommendations of the fiscal responsibility commission appointed by President Obama.

A resolution to amend the Constitution requires two-thirds support of the Senate and the House. It would also require ratification by 38 states.

“No one is saying that a balanced budget would immediately pass, but the tide has turned as the majority of people in America realize that deficits are a big problem,” said a Senate GOP aide.

Several Democratic senators have supported such a proposal in the past.

Democratic Sens. Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE (Mont.), Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinWe need a voting rights workaround Romney's TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors' benefits Two more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers MORE (Iowa) and Herb Kohl (Wis.) voted for a balanced budget amendment when it came to the floor in March of 1995. Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE, who then represented Delaware, also voted for it.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), a Democrat who voted against the amendment, will retire after this year, and other opponents such as Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Biden's pre-K plan is a bipartisan opportunity to serve the nation's children Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel MORE (D-Wash.) face tough reelections.

The idea has bipartisan support in the House.

A group of centrist Blue Dog Democrats introduced legislation earlier this year to add a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

A resolution sponsored by Rep. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.) has 42 Democratic co-sponsors.

GOP candidates who could join the Republican Conference next year, such as Paul of Kentucky and Lee of Utah, have said they would press for a debate on the amendment early in the 112th Congress.

A popular element of the amendment is the requirement of a supermajority to raise taxes.

“The point of that is so that raising taxes won’t be the default way to balance the budget,” said DeMint. “The whole idea is to cut spending.”

A senior Senate Republican aide who works on tax policy said that creating a supermajority threshold could be part of a grand legislative compromise that emerges from the recommendations of the fiscal responsibility commission.

He said Republicans might be more willing to accept tax increases to reduce the deficit if they were assured that it would be much more difficult to raise taxes in the future.

“It could be part of a grand bargain,” said the aide.

But DeMint is skeptical of that prospect.

“I support a supermajority to raise taxes,” he said. “But to use it as leverage to agree to other tax increases, I’m not sure.”

DeMint said he wanted to first see the recommendations of Obama’s commission, which is due to report by Dec. 1.

“Hopefully it’s robust spending cuts, because that’s what Americans are expecting,” he said.