WASHINGTON – Today, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) reintroduced an amendment to the United States Constitution that would require the federal government to balance its budget each year. This amendment would put a stop to the current “status quo” of Congress spending far more money than the federal government takes in and would place strict limitations on the federal government’s ability to increase taxes, raise the debt limit, and carry out other actions that threaten our long-term fiscal sustainability.
“For far too long, hardworking Americans have been forced to bear the burden of Congress’ inability and unwillingness to control federal overspending,” Lee said. “As our federal debt continues to rise at an alarming rate, the least we can do is require the federal government to not spend more money than it has at its disposal. We expect families, businesses, and state and local governments all to stick to their budgets and live within their means – there is no reason that the federal government should not have to follow the same set of rules.”
“It’s simple math: The federal government should not be spending more taxpayer money than it brings in. Families, farmers and businesses across my home state of Iowa and across the entire country make difficult decisions every day to balance the books. It’s the responsible thing to do. Almost every state has adopted some form of a balanced budget requirement, and it’s past time that the federal government follows suit,” Grassley said.
The proposed amendment, S.J. Res. 5, would require Congress to spend no more than it collects during any fiscal year, and limits spending to 18% of the gross national product, the 40-year historical average of total federal receipts. Congress can only run a deficit, raise taxes, or increase the debt limit if agreed to by two-thirds of both the House and Senate. Furthermore, the amendment gives standing to any member of Congress to seek judicial enforcement of the balanced budget requirement as long as they have been authorized to do so by a petition signed by one-third of either the House or the Senate.
Congress ought to waste no time in passing this amendment to take a positive, affirmative step towards fiscal responsibility.