The Senate on Wednesday defeated each party’s version of a constitutional amendment that would have required a balanced federal budget.
The rival proposals would have prohibited Congress from spending more each year than it receives in revenue.
But each one fell well short of the two-thirds majority needed to send them to the states for ratification.
Republicans of every stripe, from Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) to centrist Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), came down to the floor throughout Tuesday and Wednesday to express support for Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) plan, arguing it represented the last chance to keep the United States from falling into the sort of crisis in which Europe is currently embroiled.
“We must prevent what’s happening in Europe from happening here,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) prior to the party-line 47-53 defeat of the GOP bill. “That’s just what our balanced-budget proposal would do.”
Although both proposals possessed characteristics associated with balanced-budget amendments, they differed by including rules regarding taxation designed to alienate members across the aisle.
The Democratic proposal, S.J.Res 24, would have prohibited Congress from lowering taxes on millionaires and would have created a “lock box” for the Social Security Trust Fund.
Republicans dismissed it, prior to its 21-79 defeat, as a “cover” to allow Democrats to say they supported a balanced-budget amendment when they did not.
It is a “weak alternative to the Republicans’ amendment,” concluded Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).