The Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday brought a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget to the floor for a vote. The measure failed on a 233-184 vote, short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass a constitutional amendment.
Republicans voted for the measure 226-6. Democrats opposed the amendment 7-178.
Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, voted for the amendment and delivered an impassioned, six-minute House floor speech about America’s debt threat.
“I’d like to reiterate some of the comments of others here and make it very clear we have been warned over the years, in writing, by the Congressional Budget Office, by the Government Accountability Office, and by Gene Dodaro, the Comptroller General of the United States, that our current financial path is unsustainable,” Brooks said. “In accounting language, that means insolvency and bankruptcy. It is very important that we do not become the debtor, as warned in Proverbs 22:7, that becomes a slave to the creditor, who becomes the master. In that vein, let’s be clear about who one of our masters is, one of our creditors, China. $1.2 trillion. Perhaps they long term will be a geopolitical friend but there’s also a chance they will be a geopolitical foe. Do we really want them to have control over our fate as a country?”
“So, it’s important that we have a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment that forces Washington, DC to act like every family has to act, to act like every city, county, and state government has to act, to act like every business has to act, and that’s to act within our financial means, act within our financial resources,” said Brooks.
Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, also voted for the amendment.
“The balanced budget amendment presented to the full House today is a commonsense measure to simply require our federal government to spend less than what it takes in each year,” Representative Roby said. “Hardworking, taxpaying Americans balance their budgets each month. It’s far past time for the federal government to be required to balance the budget and operate in a manner that is fiscally responsible, and it’s a shame that Democrats refused to support such a measure.”
Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, also gave a speech in favor of passing the amendment.
“The very first bill I introduced when the 115th Congress kicked off last year was a balanced budget amendment,” Byrne said. “With the national debt over $21 trillion, it is no secret that the federal government has a spending issue. Before coming to Congress, I served in the Alabama State Legislature. Like many states, Alabama is required to pass a budget that does not spend more than we have. We do it each year. A balanced budget is not some far flung idea. Families in Southwest Alabama and all around the country sit around the kitchen table and figure out how to make ends meet. Small businesses face the exact same challenges. The federal government should be required to play by the same rules.”
“Each Congress since being elected to serve Alabama’s Second District, I’ve introduced similar balanced budget legislation,” Roby said. “I’m hopeful that we will soon see it across the finish line to ensure that future generations aren’t burdened by insurmountable debt.”
If the amendment had passed the House there is little chance that it would have passed the bitterly divided U.S. Senate.