This timeline is a work-in-progress. It provides key moments in the debate about balancing the federal budget. For context, refer to the party in power chart.
In 1936, Representative Harold Knutson (MN) proposed the first constitutional amendment to balance the budget (H.J. Res. 579, 74th Cong.). It would have established a per capita limitation on the federal public debt.
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held eight hearings around the country on the balanced-budget amendment.
Republican Pary: "If necessary, the Republican Party will seek to adopt a Constitutional amendment to limit federal spending and balance the budget, except in time of national emergency as determined by a two-thirds vote of Congress."
Democratic Party: "We oppose a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget."
On 4 August, the Senate adopted (69-31) a balanced budget constitutional amendment (S.J. Res. 58 of the 97th Congress). The House did not take up this measure.
Congress passes the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act (PL 99-177, Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act), which requires automatic cuts in discretionary spending when Congress fails to meet specific deficit-reduction targets.
On 25 March, by one vote the Senate failed (66-34) to adopt a balanced budget constitutional amendment (S.J. Res. 225 of the 99th Congress).
In September, the House amends Gramm-Rudman-Hollings (P.L. 100-119) and adopts higher deficit levels.
On 17 July, the House failed to achieve a two-thirds majority on H.J. Res. 268, a balanced budget constitutional amendment.
On 9 June, the House failed to achieve a two-thirds majority on a balanced budget constitutional amendment.
On 30 June and again on 1 July, the Senate failed (56-39) on a cloture vote which would have brought a balanced budget constitutional amendment to the floor.
On 7 May, the most recent constitutional amendment, which prohibits a congressional pay raise from taking effect during the Congress in which it was adopted, was ratified.
On 1 March, the Senate failed (63-37) to pass a balanced budget constitutional amendment (S.J. Res. 41 of the 103rd Congress).
On 17 March, the House failed to achieve a two-thirds majority on a balanced budget constitutional amendment (H.J. Res. 103).
On 26 January, the House passed a balanced budget amendment (300-132).
On 6 June, the Senate failed to pass a balanced budget constitutional amendment (64-35).
The US public debt is about 51 percent of current annual Gross Domestic Product.
On 4 March, the Senate failed (66-34) to achieve a two-thirds majority on a balanced budget constitutional amendment.
On 13 February, Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK), introduced a balanced budget amendment.
On 16 March, Congress raised the debt limit to $9 trillion.
On 17 March, the total debt of the US federal government was $8.273 trillion. That's $27,690.88 for each adult and child in this country (estimated population: 298,798,379). Since the fiscal year began on 1 October 2005, debt has grown $2.03 billion per day.
In October, the national debt exceeded $10 trillion for the first time.
On 2 March, the total debt of the US federal government was $10.895 trillion. That's an estimated $35,635.54 for each U.S. citizen. The Bush Administration is responsible for 40 percent/link] of this debt load.
Business Week, CNN, Ludwig von Mises Institute, NPR, Legislative History: Senate, House, and Thomas