Under Looming Debt Ceiling Fight, 23 Cosponsors Join Miss. Senator in Renewed Push to Amend the U.S. Constitution to Force Annual Balanced Federal Budgets, Fight Debt

021023 BBA Intro 
VIDEO:  Hyde-Smith Discusses Why the U.S. Needs a Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With a looming battle over the nation’s debt and borrowing authority, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) with 23 cosponsors has introduced a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution to force the President and Congress to enact annual balanced budgets.

The joint resolution (S.J.Res.13) proposes a constitutional amendment to establish requirements for the submission and approval of annual balanced budgets, including guidelines regarding exceeding spending caps and raising taxes.  Hyde-Smith introduced similar resolutions in the 116th and 117th Congresses.

“The old saying goes, ‘Money doesn't grow on trees.’  This is a lesson lost on Democrats whose intent to spend trillions upon trillions of taxpayer dollars to grow government is astounding by any measure,” Senator Hyde-Smith said, pointing to a national debt that has skyrocketed to $31.5 trillion.

“Most Americans understand that our growing deficit and national debt will catch up with us if we don't act to control spending.  We must learn to live within our means.  Mississippi is required to balance its budget and Washington should too,” she added.  “My balanced budget amendment provides the American people and our nation’s leaders with a responsible framework to save the country from a future of perpetual and unsustainable red ink.”

The joint resolution would amend the U.S. Constitution to require:
•    Require the President to submit a balanced budget
•    Require Congress to pass a balanced budget
•    Restrict federal spending to 18 percent of the Gross Domestic Product
•    Require two-thirds majority votes in the House and Senate to raise taxes
•    Require a new three-fifths majority vote in both houses of Congress to raise the debt limit

S.J.Res.13 also includes certain spending waivers for use during wartime or imminent danger to national security.  (Read the legislation here, along with a one-pager here.)

Original cosponsors of the Hyde-Smith measure include U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (Kan.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

“Families and businesses across Texas have to live within their means, and the federal government should be no exception,” said Senator Cornyn.  “As America stares down the barrel of a potential debt crisis, a balanced budget amendment would make clear that Washington can’t keep spending more than it takes in, and I’m glad to bring this provision to the federal level given the success it has had in Texas.”

“Wyoming balances its budget every year – it’s time for Washington to follow our lead,” said Senator Barrasso.  “This amendment ensures Congress and the president are constitutionally obligated to avoid reckless overspending.  At a time we are facing record-high inflation, it’s more important than ever to balance each and every budget coming out of Washington.” 

“States like Montana are required to have a balanced budget—so why isn’t Congress?  We are here to serve, not be served and that starts with getting our fiscal house in order.  Glad to stand with my colleagues as we work to pass an amendment that requires the federal government to balance their budget,” Senator Daines said.

“We need to get our economy back on track, and that starts with responsible government spending.  We must make the hard decisions now to secure a bright future for our children and grandchildren. During his time in the Senate, my friend and predecessor Senator Mike Enzi pushed repeatedly for a balanced budget amendment.  I will continue to push for this amendment on behalf of future generations of people in Wyoming,” Senator Lummis said.

“Throughout my career in public service, I have called for the government to act as every family and business has to each and every day to responsibly balance their budgets.  Something so basic should not be this elusive for Congress to do, which is why we need this Constitutional Amendment,” Senator Capito said.

“The federal government, like families across the country, should budget and live within their means. Unfortunately, the federal government repeatedly fails to do so, which has resulted in mountains of debt and a skyrocketing deficit.  To end the madness and move our country towards fiscal sanity, we need a constitutional amendment that would require Congress to pass a balanced budget and create guardrails to ensure that any attempt to raise the debt ceiling or raise taxes must be approved by a substantial percentage of Congress.  It is beyond time for our nation to follow the example of Idahoans and live within their means,” Senator Risch said.

“The government never gets enough of the taxpayer’s money.  If you send it, they will spend it.  What’s clear is that we must get our fiscal house in order.  We owe it to our kids and grandkids not to burden them with insurmountable debt.  Under President Biden’s watch, federal spending has increased by over $6 trillion, and our deficit has increased by over $4.8 trillion.  Biden spent $80 billion alone to supersize the IRS and $400 billion for his green new deal.  Biden’s reckless spending has led to record-high inflation, costing families an additional $10,000 since he took office.  By working with federal agencies to cut back, we can drive down our spending, our annual deficit, and our national debt,” Senator Blackburn said.

“A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution would go a long way toward reining in runaway federal spending,” said Senator Crapo.  “Balancing the federal budget would require careful scrutiny of all programs funded by the American taxpayer.  We cannot spend ourselves into prosperity, and it is past time to put our fiscal house in order.”

“It is long past time for Congress to stop budgeting crisis to crisis.  Across Nebraska, families have to make difficult decisions about their own budgets every day, especially as they cope with the pain of inflation. Congress should operate under the same rule.  I’m proud to support this amendment that will force our federal government to live within its means and ensure taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly,” said Senator Fischer.

“Congress must return to the regular appropriations process and draft annual spending bills that fit within our means.  At the same time, this balanced budget amendment would provide a commonsense outline to ensure that future budgets are responsible, and that we can work to fund our national priorities without overspending,” said Senator Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“Reckless, unfettered spending fuels inflation and Americans are feeling the pain,” said Senator Cramer. “If we don’t institutionalize fiscal discipline, we won’t exercise fiscal discipline. A Constitutional Amendment will hold us all accountable.”

“Unlike the State of Indiana, the federal government is not required to balance the budget,” said Senator Young.  “I’ve long supported a balanced budget amendment to help address our long-term fiscal problems, reduce unnecessary spending, and restore budget sanity.”

“Our country’s national debt is unsustainable and unacceptable.  Adding an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the most powerful step we can take to force Congress and the President to make tough choices and rescue our country’s ailing fiscal health.  If a working family or a small business can balance their budgets, it’s time that the U.S. government does the same,” Senator Budd said.

“The federal debt now amounts to well over $30 trillion and, as interest rates continue to rise, so too does the cost for the federal government to borrow.  Congress must halt its dangerous reliance on deficit spending and instead enact economically-sustainable fiscal policies for the American people.  I’m pleased to cosponsor this balanced budget amendment, which would provide a long-term strategy so we can move forward as good stewards of hardworking North Carolinians’ taxpayer dollars,” Senator Tillis said.

“For far too long the U.S. government has not been forced to make the tough choices necessary to keep spending in check,” Senator Wicker said.  “I have repeatedly supported balanced budget amendments to ensure the President and Congress take ownership of our financial future and rein in our ballooning debt.”

“With more than $31 trillion in debt, it is undeniable that the federal government has a spending problem, and we cannot continue to ignore this problem and borrow away the future of our children and grandchildren.  Families across Tennessee have to live within a budget, the State of Tennessee balances its budget each year, and Tennesseans rightly expect Washington to do the same,” said Senator Hagerty.  “Requiring a balanced budget is a logical step toward reducing our crippling national debt and getting our fiscal house in order.  Congress should be focused on eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse, clawing back the unnecessary partisan spending that has fueled inflation, and preserving the nation’s fiscal health so that we can continue to sufficiently support critical government functions, our seniors, and our military and national security.”

“We are dangerously close to hitting the debt-ceiling once again thanks to decades of out-of-control spending in Washington. Rather than find common ground, honor our debts, and make reasonable spending cuts, Joe Biden would rather use the same old cheap scare tactics,” Senator Marshall said.  “This fiscal mess and the inability of Members of Congress to fight the temptation to continue engaging in deficit spending is why we need this Constitutional amendment.”

“Every business and household in America understands the importance of balancing a budget," said Senator Mullin.  "For too long, the federal government has failed to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars with total expenditures far exceeding revenue.  This is not Monopoly money.  I’m proud to join my colleagues in demanding annual balanced budgets from Congress and the President.  The current debt is destabilizing the nation’s economy and threatening our security.  This amendment will not only benefit our generation but also our kids' generation and the ones that will follow.”