GOP Pushes Balanced Budget Amendment

House conservatives get backing of Senate GOP leaders in budget war.

By + More

Congressional Republicans are turning up the heat on Democrats to allow an up or down vote on a balanced budget amendment. In a letter to Senate Democrats that warns that the nation’s “ fiscal crisis” could undermine the military and make the United States look weak to the world, eight Senate GOP conservative leaders today are demanding hearings on the amendment, dubbed S.J. 10.

“Washington has a spending problem and this problem is getting worse. The budget deficit is now almost fifteen times the size it was when the Senate came within one vote of passing a balanced budget amendment in 1997. A balanced budget amendment is a measure that is long overdue and whose time has come,” wrote the eight, led by Texan Sen. John Cornyn, also chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. [Read the U.S. News debate: Does the U.S. Need a Balanced Budget Amendment?]

The Senate’s new effort comes on the heels of a similar move in the House. Rep. Jim Jordan, who heads the influential Republican Study Committee, is circulating a letter that asks Speaker John Boehner to include the amendment in any deal with the president in return for agreeing to a higher debt ceiling. [Read the U.S. News debate: Should Congress increase the debt ceiling?]

“The Senate and the House both need to pass this balanced budget amendment and let the states ratify it. That’s the only way to permanently get spending under control,” said RSC spokesman Brian Straessle.

In their letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the eight Senate conservatives warn that not taking charge of the budget crisis could lead to a weaker nation and poor military.

“The debt also has implications for our national security. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calls the debt ‘the most significant threat to our national security.’ Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warns that the debt ‘sends a message of weakness internationally.’” [See editorial cartoons about the budget and deficit.]

Here is the full text provided to Whispers:

June 8, 2011

The Honorable Dick Durbin, Chairman
Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights
Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20150

Dear Chairman Durbin,

Our nation is facing a fiscal crisis that is only getting worse. The national debt, now over $14 trillion, has increased by more than one-third since January 2009. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the deficit for the current fiscal year will be approximately $1.4 trillion and the national debt will soon be larger than the economy. The debt also has implications for our national security. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calls the debt “the most significant threat to our national security.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warns that the debt “sends a message of weakness internationally.”

Therefore, we ask that you immediately hold hearings on S.J.Res. 10, which calls for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. S.J.Res. 10 would also put in place a much-needed restraint on runaway Washington spending and protect working Americans from higher taxes. S.J.Res. 10 is supported by 47 Senators and has the support of numerous grassroots organizations.

Undoubtedly, Washington has a spending problem and this problem is getting worse. The budget deficit is now almost fifteen times the size it was when the Senate came within one vote of passing a balanced budget amendment in 1997. A balanced budget amendment is a measure that is long overdue and whose time has come.

The American people are demanding action from Washington to get our fiscal house in order once and for all.

Sincerely,

John Cornyn, United States Senator
Orrin Hatch, United States Senator
Chuck Grassley, United States Senator
Jon Kyl, United States Senator
Jeff Sessions, United States Senator
Lindsey Graham, United States Senator
Mike Lee, United States Senator
Tom Coburn, United States Senator

Cc: The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee