WASHINGTON — In a legislative dig at President Barack Obama, the GOP-controlled House on passed a bill designed to highlight the fact that he's never offered a balanced budget during his White House tenure.
Democrats called the legislation a political gimmick, and it's sure to be ignored by Democrats controlling the Senate.
The "Require Presidential Leadership and No Deficit Act" is meant to require that president submit a budget that balances the government's books. It passed by a 253-167 vote, with 26 Democrats joining with majority Republicans behind the bill.
The legislation is aimed at drawing a contrast between Obama and House Republicans, who recently announced that their upcoming budget blueprint would come to balance within a decade. That's a shift from the past two years, when Republican budgets contained sharp cuts but failed to project a balanced ledger.
The bill's author, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., said it "simply says to the president, 'Mr. President, when you submit your budget, just let us know when it balances.'"
During the debate, Republicans pointed out the four consecutive years of trillion dollar-plus deficits occurred on Obama's watch and that he has once again failed to meet the legal deadline for submitting his budget to Congress. Obama's budget was supposed to have been delivered on Monday but isn't expected until next month.
"Every year the president has been in office, there have been deficits of $1 trillion — adding $6 trillion to the debt," said GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy of California. "Out of the last five budgets, four of them have been late."
Countered Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.: "This bill before us isn't a meaningful attempt to address the budget. It's a gimmick wrapped in talking points inside a press release."