GOP House Will Vote on Balanced Budget Amendment That Permits Unlimited Federal Spending

Matt Cover | November 15, 2011 | 7:34pm EST
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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). (AP Photo)

( – House Republicans are set to vote later this week on a balanced budget amendment (BBA) that would not cap federal spending as a percentage of GDP or require a supermajority to raise taxes.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the vote would probably take place this Friday.

Cantor said that this version of a BBA, H.J. Res 2 -- rather than one that would cap federal spending, H.J. Res 1 -- was the version “overwhelmingly” favored by House Republicans.

“You know, the process was set up to be member driven,” Cantor told reporters at his weekly press briefing on Monday. “There was a great opportunity for all the members to weigh in. We had a big conference two weeks ago. The Whip's Office has gone through their processes of seeking member input and, overwhelmingly, members feel that the version we are bringing to the floor is the one that they would like to see.”

In the Senate, all 47 Republicans support a balanced budget amendment, sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that would cap federal spending at 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product and would require two-thirds majorities in both houses to increase taxes. Lee told that a balanced budget amendment that did not include these provisions would lose votes among Senate Republicans.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). (AP Photo)

Cantor said he would have personally liked to see the BBA with a spending cap and supermajority on taxes brought to the floor for a vote, but said he will support the weaker version because he thinks it is better than having no balanced budget requirement at all.

“Personally, if I had my druthers, I would like to see us vote on a stronger BBA,” he said.  “So I hope that this passes. And I will be voting for it because I do think ultimately the biggest check we can put on government's unbridled spending is a forced balanced budget amendment like most states have.”

Both the House and the Senate are required to have a vote on a balanced budget amendment before the end of the year due to a concession that Cantor and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) won during the negotiations over raising the debt ceiling in August.

Many conservatives, including former Attorney General Edwin Meese, have argued that a balanced budget amoednement that does not cap spending and require supermajorities for tax icreases is a formula for bigger government and higher taxes.

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