A Brief History of the Balanced Budget Amendment

Chairman Goodlatte has introduced amendments requiring Congress to balance the federal budget every Congress since 2007 (114th) (115th).


In 2011, the House Judiciary Committee reported H.J.Res 1 favorably. A balanced budget amendment was then voted on by the House of Representatives, but the measure was blocked by House Democrats and did not get the full 2/3 majority vote to pass the full House of Representatives.


Chairman Goodlatte repeated the urgent need for a balanced budget in his official agenda for the 113th Congress: “A Constitutional amendment will force Congress to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful spending and make the decisions necessary to balance the budget and eliminate the federal deficit.”

And again in the 114th Congress:“We must also create a stable fiscal outlook for consumers and businesses. We need to look at broad institutional reforms, like the Balanced Budget Amendment.”


As well as his latest agenda for the 115th Congress:


“Furthermore, to increase our competitiveness we need to get our fiscal house in order.  The federal debt is nearly 20 trillion dollars. That’s over $61,000 per person! For years, the federal government’s mantra has been “borrow, spend, rinse, and repeat.” The current path is unsustainable and we must end runaway government spending.

“One good first step would be to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment. Since 2007, I’ve introduced proposals every Congress to require a balanced annual federal budget and prevent Congress from spending more than it receives in revenues. These proposals have received strong support over the years, and I am hopeful that we can address this problem soon so that we do not continue to impoverish our children and grandchildren by passing a massive debt on to them.”


In 2017, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing examining the need for the Balanced Budget Amendment with bipartisan support. During that hearing, Chairman Goodlatte delivered the following opening remarks:


The only way to ensure that Congress acts with fiscal restraint over the long term is to pass a balanced budget amendment.  Experience has proven time and again that Congress cannot for any significant length of time rein in excessive spending.  Annual deficits and the resulting debt continue to grow due to political pressures that the Constitution’s structure no longer serves to restrain.

“In order for Congress to be able to consistently make the tough decisions necessary to sustain fiscal responsibility, Congress must have the external pressure of a balanced budget requirement to force it to do so.”

Finally, in March 2018, House Leadership scheduled a vote for Chairman Goodlatte’s proposed amendment, H.J.Res 2.