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Balanced Budget Amendment

BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT


The creation of the U.S. federal government's annual budget is a lengthy, complex process. The process became even more complicated in the 1990s as some congressional members called upon Congress to enact a Balanced Budget Amendment to halt a growing federal deficit. The movement for a Balanced Budget Amendment, a Republican-backed initiative, gained steam after the 1994 elections that ushered in a Republican-controlled Congress. The Republican Party promoted an anti-tax and anti-spending platform and saw the amendment as a curb to federal spending. For four years in a row, however, the amendment failed to gain the necessary votes in Congress. (Even if the measure had won congressional approval it would have needed to be ratified by the states before it could become a Constitutional amendment.)

The proposed amendment called for the federal budget to be balanced by 2002 and would have required the president and Congress to weigh proposed total spending against proposed total potential income. Opponents to the amendment believed that it would have restricted Congress from being able to deal with unforeseen situations such as a military crisis. However the amendment had a provision that a three-fifths majority of Congress could waive the requirement of a balanced budget in any given year. Critics also felt that balancing the budget should be accomplished through presidential and congressional restraint in the budget-planning stage.

The call for a balanced budget was not a new theme. Congress had passed many measures over the years to try to mandate a balanced budget with varying or little success. In 1986 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, which was passed by Congress in 1985. The act required the federal budget to be balanced within five years and failing that, there would be automatic across-the-board spending cuts. The Court ruled that this budget-slashing measure was in violation of the Constitution's doctrine of separation of powers.

See also: Budget Deficit

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"Balanced Budget Amendment." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Balanced Budget Amendment." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/balanced-budget-amendment

Balanced Budget Amendment

BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT

BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT, if approved by Congress and ratified by the states, would forbid Congress to appropriate more money than the federal government receives in revenues. This requirement could be waived (in wartime for example) by a three-fifths vote of Congress. The amendment would also require a three-fifths vote to raise taxes. In 1997, during the 105th Congress, the amendment failed by one vote in the Senate, just as it had in the 104th Congress, when Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon, a Republican, voted "No," drawing the wrath of conservatives in the Senate and nationwide. The House of Representatives approved the measure by a large margin in both instances.

Proponents argue that without the Balanced Budget Amendment Congress will be unable to resist deficit spending; opponents argue that it would hamstring Congress unnecessarily, especially in times of national emergency. While it failed to send a balanced budget amendment to the states, the 105th Congress did approve the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, signed into law by President William J. Clinton on 5 August 1997, which included a host of spending initiatives and tax credits. Sub-sequent to the act's passage, the federal government ran budget surpluses through the remaining years of the 1990s.

R. VolneyRiser

See alsoBudget, Federal .

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"Balanced Budget Amendment." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Balanced Budget Amendment." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/balanced-budget-amendment

"Balanced Budget Amendment." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/balanced-budget-amendment