WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the national debt tops $18.8 trillion, U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) Wednesday introduced House Joint Resolution 81, a bipartisan constitutional amendment which would restrict the federal government from spending more than it receives.
“When the government spends more than it brings in, it takes money and economic opportunity from our children. We owe it to future generations of Americans to get federal spending under control for the sake of our economy and our national security,” Stivers said. “We are also putting our country in a position of weakness by borrowing money from other counties, like China.”
The proposed resolution would amend the United States Constitution, which will require a two-thirds majority of each house of Congress to approve it, and then subsequent ratification by 38 states, or a ¾ majority. Once adopted, the BBA would take effect 10 years after ratification.
In case of a declaration of war or a national emergency, Congress could waive the balanced budget requirement; however, such an exception would require a majority vote in both chambers, and any debt incurred would be required to be paid back within 10 years, without exception. This provision allows for flexibility in responding to emergency situations, while ensuring the federal government takes seriously its responsibility to ensure it is not burdening future generations with debt.
The approach Stivers and Sinema are taking to adopt a balanced budget amendment is one of two ways to amend the United States Constitution. To ensure the United States lives within its means and balances its budget, Stivers has also led the effort in Congress to both encourage and formally track the individual states, which are calling for a Constitutional Convention to adopt a federal balanced budget amendment through a process outlined in Article V. To date, 27 states, including Ohio, have sent balanced budget amendments to Congress.
Thirty-four states – a 2/3 majority — would be required to move forward and any amendments proposed by the eventual Convention would require ¾ of states to approve it.
“At this point, either legislative strategy will do. Whether we start with Congress or start at the state level, it is essential that we require a balanced budget,” Stivers said.