Bloomberg News

Senate Defeats Balanced-Budget Amendment in First of Two Votes

December 14, 2011

Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The Senate defeated a proposed U.S. constitutional amendment to require the federal government to balance its budget.

Lawmakers rejected a Democratic proposal and will vote on a plan offered by Republicans. The Democratic measure was defeated on a 79-21 vote.

The votes are required under an agreement reached in August to raise the federal debt limit. The House defeated a proposed balanced-budget amendment last month. The Constitution has been amended 27 times, the last time in 1992, though lawmakers have offered more than 11,000 proposals, according to congressional statistics.

Neither of the proposals would require the government to match spending with revenue. Instead, each would mean Congress would have to approve any borrowing by a three-fifths vote.

The Republican proposal by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah would bar spending from exceeding 18 percent of the economy -- last year it was 24 percent -- and also require tax increases to be passed by two-thirds majorities.

The Democrats’ plan, offered by Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, would have barred any income-tax cuts for millionaires that add to the federal budget deficit.

The Democratic measure is S.J. Res. 24, and the Republican one is S.J. Res. 10.

--Editors: Laurie Asseo, Jodi Schneider

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Faler in Washington at bfaler@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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