July 11, 2013

Manchin Introduces Common-Sense Balanced Budget Amendment

Amendment Forces Federal Government to Balance Its Books Just As Middle-Class Families Do

Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska),  Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced a constitutional amendment today that would require the federal government to balance its budget and restore fiscal discipline in Washington. The amendment would direct Congress to balance the federal budget each year and would require that federal spending not exceed revenues except in exceptional cases, such as when the nation is at war.

Under the amendment, the balanced budget requirement could be suspended only if three-fifths of the members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives agree.

"I truly believe that most Americans not only support a balanced federal budget — they manage their own lives with a balanced budget. It's time for the federal government to do the same," Manchin said. "Balancing our budget is simple common sense, and this constitutional amendment would ensure that we put our fiscal house in order. With our nation approaching $17 trillion in debt, and growing by the day, it's time for the federal government to start living within its means. This is the kind of positive step that the people of my state and this great nation are so eager to see from Washington."

"If Colorado's hardworking families and small businesses can maintain balanced budgets, Congress should be able to balance the federal budget," Udall said. "The national debt is one of the most serious problems facing our nation today. This constitutional amendment provides a responsible path forward to restore fiscal sanity to Washington and to prevent future Congresses from repeating the mistakes of the past."

"Requiring the President and Congress to pass a balanced budget each year is just common sense," Begich said. "This is also an important step in cracking down on Washington's out of control spending and reducing our deficit. I strongly encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get behind this effort so we can get our fiscal house in order."

"This amendment is far overdue. There is bipartisan agreement that we need to get our fiscal house in order, and I am looking forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move in that direction," Heitkamp said. "In North Dakota, we believe in fiscal responsibility. With our national debt sitting at more than $16 trillion, it is time for the Federal Government to follow North Dakota's lead and start budgeting responsibly."

"We can and should live within a budget — just like families and small businesses across Missouri," said McCaskill, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight. "The plan I'm supporting would protect the vital programs folks rely on, like Social Security and Medicare, but would effectively prevent Congress's ability to run a deficit and drive up the national debt."

"This responsible amendment requires a balanced budget while protecting seniors, Social Security and middle-class families," Tester said. "This nation needs a balanced budget requirement because Congress was given a $236 billion surplus in 2001, then irresponsibly squandered it in a matter of months."

The amendment:

• Requires that Congress balance the federal budget each year unless three-fifths of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives vote to override this requirement.
• Requires the president to submit a balanced budget to Congress every year.
• Allows spending to exceed revenues in times of declared war or military conflicts declared by a joint resolution.
• Protects the Social Security Trust Fund by exempting it from the scope of the amendment.
• Prohibits Congress from providing income tax breaks for millionaires, unless the nation is running surpluses (those surpluses must also not be eliminated if such a tax break were enacted).