Category Archives: Constitutional Amendment

Manchin Backs Spending Caps, Balanced Budget Amendment

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) “on Tuesday announced his support for strict spending caps that put him at odds with his party’s leadership and President Obama,” The Hill reports.

Manchin told an audience in South Charleston, W.Va. that he would endorse the “CAP Act,” which sets a tighter spending limit than the president’s budget calls for, as well as a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

The senator suggested the legislation could help Republicans and Democrats agree to a deal to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

“Today, I will be announcing my support for two proposals that I believe provide a good starting point and framework from which we can move forward,” he said, according to excerpts of his remarks released by his office. “But let me be also clear — one of my top priorities will be to make sure that whatever final debt fix emerges, it will keep our promises to our seniors by protecting Social Security and Medicare. I believe we can do this and cut our debt and deficits over time.”

The “CAP Act,” sponsored by GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), would cap federal spending at 20.6 percent of gross national product after 10 years.

According to the Floor Action blog, Senator Corker says the White House is actively working against the spending cap proposal.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Monday the White House is calling every member of the Senate, urging them to reject the “CAP Act.”

“The White House is calling every individual senator and asking them to stay off of this bill,” Corker told the Times-News editorial board Monday while promoting his legislation. “I see it as a part of the fulcrum of this (spending) debate. I’m hoping that it passes.”

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Filed under Budget, Constitutional Amendment, White House

Senators Seek Term Limits for Members of Congress

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) introduced today an “amendment to the United States Constitution that would apply term limits to all members of Congress,” according to a press release.

The legislation, S.J. Res. 11, would limit U.S. Representatives to three terms and U.S. Senators to two terms in office. As an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it would require a two-thirds majority vote approval in the House and Senate and must be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

Sponsors of this measure:

Cosponsors include Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), John Ensign (R-Nevada), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), and David Vitter (R-Louisiana).

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Filed under Constitutional Amendment, House of Representatives

Senate Republicans Unveil Balanced Budget Amendment

Senate Republicans are introducing today a “consensus Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution that would mandate a balanced federal budget,” according to a press release from the office of Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE).

Per the release, this amendment would:

  • Require the President to submit to Congress a balanced budget that limits outlays to 18 percent of GDP.
  • Require Congress to pass a balanced budget and limit federal outlays to 18 percent of GDP.
    • Exceptions include:
      1. Both houses by a two-thirds vote can provide for a specific excess
      2. Both houses by a majority vote can provide for a specific excess during a declared war;
      3. Both houses by a three-fifths vote can provide for a specific excess for a fiscal year during a military conflict declared to be "an imminent and serious military threat to national security" and the excess be limited to "outlays…made necessary by the identified conflict."
  • Require a two-thirds vote from both houses for any bill that raises taxes or otherwise "increases the statutory rate of any tax or the aggregate amount of revenue."
  • Require three-fifths vote from both houses to increase the debt limit;
    • Only a simple majority would be required during a time of declared war against a specific nation state. 
  • Become effective the fifth fiscal year after ratification.

According to The Hill, a “Senate GOP aide indicated that the balanced budget amendment had the backing of all 47 GOP Senators.”

Full text of this measure is linked here.

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Filed under Budget, Constitutional Amendment

Lee, DeMint Likely to Filibuster Debt Limit Increase

Senate conservatives “plan to filibuster legislation to increase the nation’s debt ceiling above $14.3 trillion, a move that will make it harder for President Obama to garner the votes he needs,” The Hill reports.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has told supporters in Utah that he will filibuster the legislation to authorize Treasury Department officials to add to the nation’s multitrillion-dollar debt.

“That’s my intention, to filibuster it,” said Lee, a member of the Senate Tea Party Caucus. 

Lee said he might be persuaded to back off if Obama and Democratic leaders agreed to a major concession, which GOP strategists consider highly unlikely.

“The concession would [have to] be something very significant, very permanent and very binding, like a balanced-budget amendment — and passage of it, not just a vote,” Lee said.

Lee added he would vote against an increase of the debt limit no matter what scenario unfolded.

DeMint:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), another founding member of the Tea Party Caucus, said Tuesday he would support a filibuster of the debt-limit increase.

“I’m not going to give any consent to move ahead with a debt-ceiling increase,” he said. “The only way I’m going to work with them is if we pass a balanced-budget amendment before we have that vote.”

DeMint predicted that Senate GOP leaders would force a vote on a balanced-budget amendment before allowing legislation to increase the debt limit to reach the floor.

The federal government “is projected to hit its debt limit between April 5 and May 31.”

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Filed under Budget, Constitutional Amendment, Debt Ceiling

Cornyn Expects All GOP Members to Support Balanced Budget Amendment

Senate Republicans “are preparing to tell President Obama that they want a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the Constitution passed in Congress in exchange for raising the statuary debt ceiling above $14.2 trillion,” according to Human Events.

“My hope is that we would force a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment as a condition to voting on the debt ceiling,” Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.) told HUMAN EVENTS.  “By next week, or shortly thereafter, we will have all 47 Republicans unified behind the effort, and then begin to reach out to our Democratic colleagues.”

A BBA would force the federal government to balance the federal spending to incoming revenue each year and cap spending at 18% of the gross domestic product (GDP).  For the current Fiscal Year (FY 2011), the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that government spending will be $1.4 trillion more than revenue and account for almost 25% of the GDP.

The last time “that the Senate voted on a Balanced Budget Amendment was in 1997.”

The amendment, sponsored by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) failed by only one vote.  Former senator and now Vice President Joe Biden voted in favor of the amendment.  Of the 11 Democrats who voted for the Hatch BBA in 1997, four are still in the Senate: Max Baucus (Mont.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Herb Kohl (Wisc.), and Mary Landrieu (La.).

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Filed under Budget, Constitutional Amendment, Debt Ceiling