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Balanced Budget Amendments Fail In the Senate

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate on Wednesday rejected two efforts to insert a Balanced Budget Amendment into the U.S. Constitution.

Both parties offered versions of the constitutional amendment, which would prevent the government from spending more money than it brings in. The Democratic proposal, sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.), went down in a 21 to 79 vote. The GOP proposal, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), also failed, 47 to 53. Both required a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

Congress is required to vote on -- but not necessarily pass -- some kind of Balanced Budget Amendment this year as part of the bipartisan debt limit deal reached over the summer.

During Wednesday's votes, Republicans took to Twitter to rail against a Democratic proposal they said had too many holes in it.

"Just voted No on weak balanced budget amdt. Won't solve the problem if it has too many loopholes and exceptions," tweeted Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

"Senate is currently voting on the D's Balanced Budget Amendment, which would require tax increases to balance the budget. I don't support it," Hatch tweeted.

Democrats, meanwhile, ripped the GOP proposal for seeking dramatic cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and for attempting to give courts the new ability to make budget-cutting decisions.

"Even [Supreme Court Justice Antonin] Scalia laughed at the idea they could do that," Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said before the vote.

"These are bumper sticker politics and a bad solution," Leahy said. "I wish those who say they revere the Constitution would do more than treat it like a bumper sticker."

Earlier Wednesday, the White House issued strongly worded statements opposing both proposals, arguing that Congress should handle budgetary matters and not punt them to other branches of government.

Both proposals would "impose serious risks for our economy" and "could result in handing the hard decisions that our elected representatives in the Congress should be making to the Federal Courts," the White House statements read.

"We do not need to amend the Constitution for only the 28th time in our Nation's history to do the job of restoring fiscal discipline. Instead, we must -- as members of both parties have done in the past -- move beyond politics as usual and find bipartisan common ground to restore us to a sustainable fiscal path."

 
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