As our country faces a fiscal crisis brought on by an unprecedented surge in deficit spending, it is clear that we do not have the luxury of kicking the can down the road and continuing with business as usual in Washington. Over the past two years, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have tried to convince the American people that we can borrow and spend our way to prosperity. The American people aren’t buying it, and they have made their desire for fiscal restraint loud and clear.
That’s why I am very pleased that today, the Senate Republican Conference will roll out a balanced budget amendment, cosponsored by all 47 Republican senators.
The new, consensus balanced budget amendment is exactly what our country needs. It is the result of hard work on the part of many senators and proof that we can change the way Washington works when we put our minds to it.
The path toward a balanced budget amendment started with two excellent pieces of legislation, one by Senators Mike Lee and Jon Kyl and another by Senators Orrin Hatch and John Cornyn. Over several weeks and many conversations with my colleagues, we discussed ways to merge these two bills into a compromise measure that the entire conference could embrace. We drafted a balanced budget amendment that sets firm restrictions on government spending and insures that future Congresses will not be able to waive these restrictions at their whim. And thanks to the leadership and support of Senator Mitch McConnell, a united Republican conference has thrown its unanimous support behind this measure.
Under our new balanced budget amendment:
- The budget will have to be balanced every year
- Federal spending will be limited to 18 percent of GDP
- Congress can only increase taxes with a two-thirds vote of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate
- Congress can only waive the 18 percent spending restriction with a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate, unless we are engaged in a military conflict which requires a three-fifths vote by both chambers
- Only a declaration of war against a nation state allows Congress to waive the requirement with a simple majority
- Congress requires a three-fifths vote to increase the debt limit
The time for action is now. As our debt approaches the $14.3 trillion statutory limit, the most irresponsible thing we can do is to increase the debt limit with no spending cuts and not spending reforms.
The balanced budget amendment is the first major step this Congress can take to impose a straitjacket on government spending, restore fiscal responsibility and enable our economy to thrive.