By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, February 10, US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) announced that he has introduced S.J.Res. 9 which proposes a constitutional amendment that would require Congress to pass a balanced budget.
Senator Shelby said in a written statement, “I have long believed that one of the few shortfalls of our Constitution is the omission of a requirement for the federal government to do what hardworking Americans do every day – balance a budget.”
Sen. Shelby said, “Our national debt recently surpassed $18 trillion, serving as a harsh reminder of the burden that will be placed on future generations if the federal government continues to operate on its unsustainable spending trajectory. Requiring Washington to balance its budget is a common sense policy that would reduce wasteful spending, restore confidence in our economy, and foster job growth.”
The national debt has increased from $10.6 trillion when President Obama took office to more than $18 trillion today and is expected to surpass $20 trillion by the time President Obama leaves office.
To pass the balanced budget amendment (BBA) it must pass in the Congress and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.
Sen. Shelby’s amendment to the Constitution would require that the total amount of money spent by the United States during any fiscal year, except during times of war, not exceed the amount of revenue received by the United States during the same fiscal year and not exceed 20 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States during the previous calendar year.
Senator Shelby has introduced similar legislation in every Congress since taking office.
The states can also call for amending the constitution through a convention. Alabama is one of 24 states who have already called for an Article V Constitutional Convention, solely to pass a balanced budget amendment. Ohio’s Governor John Kasich’s (R) is encouraging more states to call for a limited constitutional convention on the Balanced Budget Amendment. It takes two-thirds, or 34, of the state legislatures to call for a limited convention to discuss an amendment on a specific topic, such as the BBA. Once called the convention would decide whether or not to pass a balanced budget amendment. For it to actually be ratified 38 states, or three-fourths, must vote for ratification.
To learn more about the Article V balanced budget effort visit their website: http://www.bba4usa.org
The Convention of States project has also included a balanced budget amendment in their call for an Article V convention, however they also want the convention to address term limits and limiting the scope of the federal government.
Senator Shelby’s balanced budget amendment has stalled in previous Congresses; but it is hoped that the new Republican leadership in the Senate will allow a vote on the Amendment.
Sen. Shelby entered the US Senate in 1987, after previously serving the people of Alabama in the US House of Representatives and the Alabama legislature.