GOP intensifies push for a balanced budget amendment. Why now?
Republicans in Congress want a vote on a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution by mid-July. It would precede any vote to raise the national debt limit.
As President Obama renewed calls for a “balanced approach” to deficit talks, Senate Republicans on Wednesday launched a bid to get Congress to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution by mid-July – ahead of a vote on Mr. Obama's request to raise the national debt limit.Skip to next paragraph
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The political odds are formidable. While all 47 Senate Republicans back the measure, at least 20 Democrats would be needed to meet the two-thirds majority threshold. So far, no Democrat has endorsed it. Even if Congress were to approve the amendment, it must be ratified by three-fourths of the states – a process that can take up to seven years.
But even a failed drive for a constitutional amendment gives Republicans a rallying point in the last crucial weeks of negotiation with the White House over raising the national debt limit.
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“What Washington needs isn’t more revenue but a “spending straightjacket,” said Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in a floor speech on Wednesday. “Senators can talk all day long about the importance of balancing the books and living within our means. A vote in favor of the Balanced Budget Amendment will show that they mean it,” he added. “A vote against it will show that they don’t.”
Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida said that a balanced budget amendment would “handcuff out-of-control politicians.” “We can no longer afford it, and we owe it to the next generation of Americans to make this right,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Obama pressed Republicans on their refusal to consider tax increases, at a press conference on Wednesday. “You can’t reduce the deficit to the levels that it needs to be reduced without having some revenue in the mix,” he said. These include curtailing tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, gas and oil companies, hedge fund managers, and other corporate loopholes.
GOP senators say they will take the case for such an amendment to voters when they return home next week. At least 65 percent of Americans favor a balanced budget amendment, according to recent polls.