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Byrne pushes balanced budget amendment to force Federal government to live within its means

Rep. Bradey Byrne (R-AL01)
Rep. Bradey Byrne (R-AL01)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) on Thursday filed a bill calling for a constitutional amendment that requires Congress to balance the federal budget each year.

The U.S. Federal Government spent $3.5 trillion in 2014 and ran up a $486 billion deficit, propelling the country’s debt over $18 trillion.

“Every month American families sit around their kitchen tables and discuss how to live within their means. Difficult decisions are made. Some things have to be cut. But ultimately, it is the responsibility of every American to not spend more than they have,” said Byrne. “Why doesn’t the federal government have to play by the same rules? The national debt is over $18 trillion dollars and it shows no sign of going down without serious efforts to rein in spending.

According to the Heritage Foundation, “over the past 20 years, federal spending grew 63 percent faster than inflation. Mandatory spending, including Social Security and means-tested entitlements, doubled after adjusting for inflation. Discretionary spending grew by 47 percent in real terms. (And going forward) three major budget categories — major health care programs, Social Security, and interest on the debt — will account for 85 percent of nominal spending growth over the next decade.”

If adopted by Congress and passed by three-fourths of state legislatures, Byrne believes his constitutional amendment would force the federal government to live within its means. The major provisions of the proposed amendment require that:

· total outlays for any fiscal year do not exceed total receipts for that fiscal year,
· total outlays for any fiscal year do not exceed one-fifth of economic output of the United States, and
· the President submits a balanced budget proposal to Congress each year.

“This isn’t a foreign idea. When I was in the Alabama State Senate, we were Constitutionally required to operate under a balanced budget. It wasn’t always easy, but it required elected officials to make tough choices in the name of fiscal sanity. Congress should be held to the same standard, and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.”