SALT LAKE CITY — Saying the federal government should live within its means as families are expected to do, Sens. Mike Lee and Chuck Grassley reintroduced a balanced budget amendment bill Thursday.
“For far too long, hardworking Americans have been forced to bear the burden of Congress’ inability and unwillingness to control federal overspending,” Lee, R-Utah, said in a statement.
The proposed constitutional amendment would require the federal government to balance its budget each year. Lee and Grassley, R-Iowa, say it would stop the "status quo" of Congress spending more money than the government takes in. It would restrict the government's ability to raise taxes or increase the debt limit and restrict other actions that they say threaten long-term financial stability.
"As our federal debt continues to rise at an alarming rate, the least we can do is require the federal government to not spend more money than it has at its disposal," Lee said. "We expect families, businesses, and state and local governments all to stick to their budgets and live within their means. There is no reason that the federal government should not have to follow the same set of rules."
The national debt is more than $21 trillion.
Grassley said it's "simple math" that the government shouldn't spend more taxpayer money than it takes in.
"Almost every state has adopted some form of a balanced budget requirement, and it’s past time that the federal government follows suit,” he said in a statement.23 comments on this story
The proposed amendment would require Congress to spend no more than it collects during any fiscal year, and limits spending to 18 percent of the gross national product, the 40-year historical average of total federal receipts.
Congress can only run a deficit, raise taxes or increase the debt limit if agreed to by two-thirds of both the House and Senate.
The amendment would also permit any member of Congress to seek court enforcement of the balanced budget requirement with authorization to do so with a petition signed by one-third of either the House or Senate.
Attempts to pass such legislation over the years have failed.