Top House Dem Whips Votes Against Balanced Budget Amendment

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).James Berglie/Zuma

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Fiscal hawks in the House of Representatives, take heart: next week, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will bring House Judiciary Committee Resolution No. 1 to a vote. The Republican-backed measure would require Congress to pass a balanced budget every year, but it also caps spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and renders it extremely difficult for either chamber to pass new spending measures.

In real terms, that would mean ghastly cuts to Medicare and Medicaid—”programs that form the heart of America’s social compact,” according to Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)—and complete budget paralysis. Essentially, the bill neuters Congress’ ability to be prepared to any future crises, fiscal or otherwise.

So on Wednesday, Democrats fired back. Hoyer, the Democratic whip, announced plans to rally votes to defeat the measure next week, The Hill reports. That shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to Republicans, who need at least 48 Democratic votes to reach the two-thirds majority in the House required to pass the bill.1

“By enshrining Republican policy priorities in the Constitution—and by making it historically difficult to raise revenue or raise the debt ceiling in order to pay our bills—the Republican amendment would impose severe hardship on millions of Americans,” Hoyer said.

The balanced budget amendment might give Cantor and Boehner much-needed political insulation if they end up caving on tax increases in a deal to increase the debt ceiling. But given the tea party’s impressive vindictive streak, I wouldn’t bet on it.


1: Why two-thirds? Because of a procedure known as suspension of rules. Under this procedure, the Speaker of the House or his chosen designee can make a motion to “suspend the rules,” limiting debate to 40 minutes and preventing any amendments from being offered to a piece of legislation. Usually, a suspension motion is written to both suspend the rules and pass the bill under consideration—meaning that once the motion passes, the bill is considered to have passed the House as well. To win passage, the motion must receive affirmative votes from two-thirds of the members present and voting.

But a suspension of the rules is usually invoked only on non-controversial legislation that enjoys broad bipartisan support. Which, it seems safe to say, the balanced budget amendment is not.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate