The House Committee on the Judiciary is expected to resume marking up H.J. Res. 1 during the week of June 13 or June 20. H.J. Res. 1 would amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget. It was introduced by Representative Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) in January. The Committee held a hearing on the bill on May 13 and began mark up of the bill on June 2 (see Memo, 5/20). The resolution has 133 cosponsors.
The resolution would amend the U.S. Constitution to limit government spending to 20% of gross domestic product (GDP) and to require that spending be capped at the amount of revenue earned in the same fiscal year regardless of the economic climate. The resolution would also amend the Constitution to require a three-fifths vote in Congress to amend or change spending and tax laws.
Resolutions that would amend the U.S. Constitution require a two-fifths majority of the House and Senate for passage. Then the proposed amendment is submitted to individual states for ratification. Three quarters of the states must ratify a constitutional amendment within seven years for it to take effect. The U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times, including the first ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.
Two reports from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) describe the damage that a constitutionally mandated balanced federal budget would do the nation. A balanced budget amendment would result in deeper cuts than the House-passed budget resolution and would follow the model of the Republican Study Committee’s (RSC) budget proposal, which would cut $9 trillion dollars over the next decade. In contrast, the House has proposed cutting $4.5 trillion over ten years.
The Senate, including numerous Democratic members, voted in March in favor of an amendment that expressed the Senate’s support for a balanced budget amendment. No one in the Senate has introduced a formal resolution.
View the first part of the House mark up: http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/mark_06022011.html
View the CBPP’s report on the House and RSC proposal: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3508
View the CBPP’s report on the economic consequences of a balanced budget amendment: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3509