Balanced Budget Amendment Fails in House

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

The House today rejected a move to amend the U.S. Constitution with a Balanced Budget Amendment. The vote of 261-165  fell 23 votes short of passage, which required a two-thirds majority.

Four Republicans, Reps. Paul Ryan, David Dreier, Justin Amash and Louie Gohmert, voted with the majority of Democrats to oppose the bill.

The last time the House voted on a Balanced Budget amendment, in 1995, the measure received more than 300 votes but fell one vote short in the Senate of becoming law. Today it wasn’t even close, with just 25 Democrats supporting the GOP-favored measure.

Afterwards, House Speaker John Boehner issued a written statement where he blasted Democrats for passing up an opportunity to get the economy back in order.

“It’s unfortunate that Democrats still don’t recognize the urgency of stopping Washington’s job-crushing spending binge, and it’s disappointing that a president who says ‘we can’t wait’ to take action on jobs is doing just that: waiting, riding things out until the election, and skipping opportunities to work together with Republicans to create a better environment for job growth,” Boehner, R-Ohio, stated. “The American people are still asking the question, ‘where are the jobs?’ But the Democrats running Washington just aren’t listening.”

Democrats opposed the measure because they said it wouldn’t solve the nation’s fiscal problems.

“Here we go again debating legislation that will not create jobs.  In fact, according to experts, enactment of this proposed amendment to our constitution would destroy 15 million jobs, double the unemployment rate, cause the economy to shrink by 17 percent,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “”Despite the claims of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, that this…is a clean balanced budget amendment.  It is not.”

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is widely respected among Republicans on budget issues and chairs the House Budget Committee. But he voted against the amendment supported by his party leadership.

“I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes,” Ryan said in a statement following the vote. “Spending is the problem, yet this version of the BBA makes it more likely taxes will be raised, government will grow, and economic freedom will be diminished. Without a limit on government spending, I cannot support this Amendment.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who is seeking the GOP nomination for president, returned to the Capitol to cast a rare vote in favor of the amendment. The other House lawmaker seeking the Republican nomination, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, missed today’s vote.

One element of the bipartisan deal to increase the debt limit last summer was to guarantee a vote in both chambers of Congress on the BBA. The Senate has not yet announced when it might take up the measure, although it is not expected to pass there either.

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