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Commentary: Balancing the Federal Budget

It is no secret that the American people are facing a very tough economic climate. Families and small businesses are cutting back on expenses.  As economic uncertainty continues, many across our nation are looking to the government for leadership during this difficult time.  In these challenging economic times it is even more important for government to control spending. The federal government must work to both eliminate every cent of waste and squeeze every cent of value out of each dollar our citizens entrust to it.  When you are preparing a budget for your family, you know that you can’t spend more than you take in.  It’s a simple concept but one that Congress has failed to adhere to for far too long.  We must balance the budget and reduce the deficit and the debt – not by raising taxes, but by being good stewards of taxpayer money.

Because it has become clear that neither party can exercise the self control necessary to rein in excessive spending, I have introduced a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, H.J. Res 1, to force Congress to do so.  My legislation, which has the support of 175 bipartisan Members of the House, ensures that the federal government is held accountable and that the money our citizens work so hard to earn is not squandered on wasteful spending and programs.

My balanced budget amendment, which is identical to the legislation that passed the House in 1995 by a vote of 300-132 and fell just two votes short of passage in the Senate, forces Congress to enact fiscally responsible spending measures and reduce the deficit by requiring that total spending for any fiscal year not exceed total receipts.  The legislation also includes a specific exception to the balanced budget provisions in times of war or other national emergencies.

This week I was pleased to join with Congressmen Mike Coffman, a Republican from Colorado and Jim Marshall, a Democrat from Georgia, in launching a new Congressional caucus aimed at adding support for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  The bipartisan caucus will be dedicated to achieving passage of H.J. Res. 1, and to educating Members of Congress on the necessity and importance of the proposed amendment to the Constitution.

As our nation faces many difficult decisions, Congress will face great pressure to spend beyond its means rather than making difficult decisions about spending priorities.  My balanced budget amendment ensures that Congress and the President are held accountable to the American taxpayers.  Unless Congress is forced to make the decisions necessary to create a balanced budget, it will always have the all-too-tempting option of shirking this responsibility.  Americans are desperate for fiscal reform and the Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment is a common sense approach to ensure that Congress is bound by the same fiscal principles that America’s families face each day.

To contact me about this or any or matter, please visit my website at

Congressman Bob Goodlatte

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