U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., today introduced a balanced budget amendment that would amend the U.S. Constitution to prohibit the federal government from spending more than it receives in any given fiscal year, except in the cases of war or recession. Murphy’s amendment also generally prohibits a court from enforcing this requirement by ordering cuts to Social Security or Medicare payments. Murphy, who is a member of the fiscally-responsible Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, is the only House Democrat to introduce a balanced budget amendment so far this Congress.
“Our national debt is skyrocketing, and we are irresponsibly passing this burden on to our children and grandchildren—shackling them with unsustainable debt,” said Murphy. “Just as every family and small business is expected to balance their budget, so should the federal government. The only way to force Congress’ hand is to amend the U.S. Constitution to require Congress to pass a balanced budget each and every year. My balanced budget amendment will compel Congress to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars.”
In 45 of the last 50 years, and in each of the last 16 years, the federal government spent more than it received in revenue. The national debt now exceeds $14 billion and represents 77 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)—a figure that is projected to reach 150 percent in 30 years if the U.S. does not change course.
Murphy added that Congress is shirking its basic responsibilities, which is hurting this nation’s economic growth. Murphy said her balanced budget amendment—combined with “No Budget, No Pay” legislation that she helped introduce—will hold Congress accountable to the American people.
“Congress has been, and continues to be, so dysfunctional because of partisanship and special interests that it is failing the American people,” said Murphy. “I helped introduce No Budget, No Pay to force Congress to pass a budget on time or lose their paychecks. My balanced budget amendment is another means of requiring Congress to work together and to do the jobs they were elected to do.”
Murphy’s amendment requires the President to annually submit to Congress a budget in which total outlays do not exceed total receipts. It also prohibits federal total outlays for a fiscal year from exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year, unless Congress authorizes the excess by a vote of three-fifths of the members of each chamber.
The balanced budget requirement does not apply if a declaration of war is in effect or if the United States is engaged in military conflict. It also does not apply if, during the current or previous fiscal year, the U.S. economy grows by less than 0 percent in real GDP during two or more consecutive quarters, or if the unemployment rate exceeds 7 percent during two or more consecutive months.
Murphy’s resolution to amend the Constitution must pass Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and it becomes part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by three-fourths of the states (currently 38 of 50 States). The President does not have a constitutional role in the amendment process.