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Balanced Budget Amendment

Timeline

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The Balanced Budget Amendment would amend the United States Constitution by requiring -- through law -- that Congress pass a federal budget that balances projected revenues and expenditures, with certain exceptions (notably, a time of war).

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.
  • 1936
    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.

  • 1979
    The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held eight hearings around the country on the balanced-budget amendment.

  • 1980
    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."

  • 1982
    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.

  • 1985
    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.

  • 1986
    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).

  • 1987
    In September, the House amends Gramm-Rudman-Hollings (P.L. 100-119) and adopts higher deficit levels.

  • 1990
    On 17 July, the House failed to achieve a two-thirds majority on H.J. Res. 268, a balanced budget constitutional amendment.

  • 1992
    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.

  • 1994
    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).

  • 1996
    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.

  • 1997
    On 4 March, the Senate failed (66-34) to achieve a two-thirds majority on a balanced budget constitutional amendment.

  • 2003
    On 13 February, Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK), introduced a balanced budget amendment.

  • 2006
    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.

  • 2008
    In October, the national debt exceeded $10 trillion for the first time.

  • 2009
    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.
Sources:

Business Week, CNN, Ludwig von Mises Institute, NPR, Legislative History: Senate, House, and Thomas

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