Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid believes that Congress should pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
“I am willing to go for that,” said Reid of Nevada.
Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.), a liberal stalwart, agreed that spending in Washington needs some control.
“The spending trends are what really motivate me, and I hope others, to accept a constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment,” Feinstein said.
But that was then, 1997, according to the Congressional Record. So what about now? Will Democrats be against the amendment after they were for it?
According to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, the following Democratic Senators are on record as supporting a Balanced Budget Amendment: Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Mark Begich of Alaska, Bill Nelson of Florida, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Tom Carper of Delaware, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Max Baucus of Montana, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Jon Tester of Montana.
“It’s absolutely critical,” Tester said during a 2006 Senate debate. That’s 21 total (with Reid and Feinstein), and according to a senior Republican aide, they only need 20 Democrat votes to help Republicans pass the amendment.
But when the House this week takes up the Balanced Budget Amendment for a vote, the Senate, led by Reid, will debate a spending bill.
And even if the measure does pass the House and Senate, it is unlikely that President Obama will sign it.
“I think it’s important for everybody to understand all of us believe we need to get to the point where we can balance the budget,” Obama said Friday. “We don’t need a constitutional amendment to do that.”
But that won’t deter House Republicans, who say they want to make sure spending cuts are locked in for future lawmakers.
“We’re in the foxhole and this is not easy,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio).
“I look forward to this fight,” said Rep. Mike Coffman (R.-Colo.).
If the proposal passes the House, then members will vote to raise the debt limit by $2.4 trillion, plus for another measure to reduce spending by the same amount.