Deseret News
FILE - Congressman Ben McAdams speaks to members of the media after holding a town hall meeting to familiarize constituents with district office staff as well as to provide an opportunity for McAdams to listen to Utahans on issues that are important to them at the Redwood Recreation Center in West Valley City on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. McAdams proposed a bill Tuesday calling for the addition of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's only Democratic member of Congress, Rep. Ben McAdams, proposed a bill Tuesday calling for the addition of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"Today I introduced a bill to prohibit the federal government from spending more than it receives in a fiscal year. It’s time to balance the budget and live within our means," McAdams said in a tweet.

The proposed amendment is backed by the 27 members of the House Blue Dog Coalition of moderate Democrats. McAdams serves as co-chairman of the coalition task force on fiscal responsibility and government reform.

The former Salt Lake County mayor is the first House Democrat to introduce a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, something that's been championed unsuccessfully by conservatives over the years.

The amendment, which would have to be approved by at least two-thirds of the members in both the House and Senate and ratified by 38 states, would make exceptions in times of war or recession.

It comes as the federal deficit is expected to climb to $1 trillion under President Donald Trump, a Republican, while some progressive Democrats in Congress are attempting to expand government programs like Medicare.

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"Democrats and Republicans continue to vote for policies that increase our future debt burden, with no offsets," McAdams said in a statement. "This is a bipartisan problem in both the legislative and executive branches, and it must end."

As "both parties punt on even trying to pass a budget blueprint, we need to consider a new structure to force fiscal discipline," he said. "With this bill, I'm saying let's stop ignoring the issue and start talking about how to address it."

McAdams won the 4th District seat in a close race last year, defeating two-term incumbent GOP Rep. Mia Love, who has since become a CNN contributor. He is seen as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in Congress up for re-election in 2020.