Enactment of the Budget Control Act back in August ensured that both the House and Senate will vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the U.S. Constitution before the end of the year. Passage of a BBA would place strict limits on federal spending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year, imperiling funding for critical federal programs serving vulnerable children and families. It puts a disproportionate amount of pressure on using the spending side of the ledger to balance budgets and reduce the deficit.
For these reasons, this week CWLA joined 276 other national groups in a letter to Congress opposing the BBA. The letter, addressed to House and Senate members, also cites a recent analysis by Macroeconomic Advisors suggesting that had a BBA been in place in fiscal year 2012, “the effect on the economy would be catastrophic.” As CWLA has repeatedly pointed out, the BBA is especially damaging during economic downturns because it would require spending cuts as the economy contracts, directly contradicting the economic concept of stimulus and prolonging any recession.
The House is currently scheduled to vote on the BBA on Friday. Because it is a constitutional amendment, 2/3 of those voting most vote in support in order for it to pass. Friday’s vote is expected to be close as Republicans will likely be joined by a significant number of Blue Dog Democrats in supporting the measure. Timing on a vote in the Senate, where passage seems much less likely, is unclear at this point.
*** UPDATE: On Friday, November 18th the House voted on the Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was defeated, falling short of the 2/3 threshold required for passage, 261-165.