Saturday, November 19, 2011

EconomicsUSA: Fed Budget Balance: House of Representatives fails to pass on split-lines vote

The Hill email newsletter (Nov18,2k11)
Reposted here by EconoMix
Balanced budget amendment fails in House 

By Pete Kasperowicz 

The House on Friday afternoon failed to approve a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
The House voted 261-165 for the amendment — a clear majority, but well short of the 290 votes needed to amend the Constitution. The amendment was supported by 236 Republicans and 25 Democrats, while four Republicans and 161 Democrats opposed it.

While a similar bill cleared the House with bipartisan support in 1995, most Democrats came out against the bill in recent days, with many pointing to the late 1990s as evidence that the budget can be balanced without a constitutional requirement.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Thursday that the earlier success in balancing the budget prompted him to oppose the amendment this time around, even though he supported the proposal in 1995.
"We made it happen not with a balanced budget amendment, but because we had the will to do so, and by following pay-go rules," Hoyer said, referring to rules that require the cost of legislation to be paid for. Hoyer argued Thursday and Friday that much of the blame for the deficit should fall on Republicans who abandoned the "pay-go" principle when taking over Congress.

One notable GOP defection was House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.), who offered the same reasoning for voting against it. "What I found ... is that we were able to balance the federal budget without touching that inspired document, the U.S. Constitution," he said.

The other three Republicans voting against it were House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas.).

The four GOP no votes were likely a sign that some Republicans were not happy with the decision to pick the more broadly supported amendment that would not require a supermajority in Congress to raise taxes in order to balance the budget.

Gohmert complained repeatedly this week that Republicans were looking at a tougher proposal that would have required a supermajority for tax hikes and also would have capped spending, but abandoned this language because only one Democrat supported it.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said earlier this week that a survey of Republican members found they "overwhelmingly" wanted to vote on the amendment without the tax requirement.

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