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house Bill H. Joint Res. 22

Should There be a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution?

Argument in favor

The federal government has lived beyond its means for far too long, racking up a national debt exceeding $20 trillion that will have to be paid by future generations. A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution is the best way to constrain spending and get the federal budget under control.

Argument opposed

A balanced budget amendment would pose too much of a constraint on the federal government, preventing it from funding many vital programs because deficit spending would be difficult politically for Congress to approve. The federal government needs to tax and spend more despite the debt.

joint resolution Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 8th, 2019

What is House Bill H. Joint Res. 22?

This resolution would propose a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which would prohibit the federal government from spending more in a fiscal year than it receives in revenue. Expenditures on repaying debt would be excluded. Congress could only waive the balanced budget requirement or raise the public debt limit by a three-fifths roll call vote by each chamber, while a majority roll call vote by each chamber would be needed to raise taxes (no voice votes would be allowed). These requirements could be waived when a declaration of war is in effect or if there is a military conflict posing an imminent and serious threat to national security. The president would have to submit a balanced budget each year.

Because it proposes a constitutional amendment, after this resolution’s passage by two-thirds of both chambers of Congress it would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures (38 states) to amend the U.S. Constitution.


American taxpayers and the general public; the federal government; Congress; and the president.

Cost of House Bill H. Joint Res. 22

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) reintroduced this Constitutional amendment from the 115th Congress upon Rep. Bob Goodlatte's (R-VA) retirement. In the previous Congress, sponsoring Rep. Goodlatte proposed this balanced budget amendment to prevent the federal government from living beyond its means:

“Nearly 20 years ago, the U.S. Senate failed by one vote to pass a balanced budget constitutional amendment. If Congress had sent the amendment to the states for ratification in 1995, we would not be facing the fiscal crisis we are today and balancing the federal budget would be the norm rather than the exception. In order for Congress to consistently make the tough decisions necessary for fiscal responsibility, Congress must have the external pressure of a balanced budget requirement. Every Congress since 2007, I have introduced amendments that require Congress to balance the federal budget. I urge my colleagues to consider the impact that reckless spending has on our nation’s future and on future generations. We should not pass on to our children and grandchildren the bleak fiscal future that our unsustainable spending is creating. It is time for Congress to finally put an end to fiscal irresponsibility and stop saddling future future generations with crushing debts to pay for our current spending. We must rise above partisanship and join together to send a balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who supported a balanced budget amendment proposal in 1995, encouraged Democrats to oppose this bill:

"Ironically, Republicans are pushing this proposal the same week in which the Congressional Budget Office released its new baseline projection showing massive new deficits resulting from Republican policies, nearly entirely from their tax law.  Under CBO’s projections, with no changes to their tax law, H.J.Res. 2 would impose a cut to federal spending larger than the entire Medicare program if it were in effect for 2019.  Even President Trump’s own budget proposal stopped short of that level of cuts. It would also make it more difficult to raise the debt limit in the future, even if a majority of Members support it. This would further promote the brinkmanship and uncertainty that has been pursued by Republicans during debt limit debates ever since they took the Majority in 2011. It would also limit Congress’ ability to respond to a national crisis, though it provides one sole exemption in the case of a declaration of war. H.J.Res. 2 is purely ideological. The United States of America has never written specific fiscal policy preferences into the Constitution, which is what this resolution seeks to do. "

In the current Congress, this legislation has the support of 27 cosponsors, all of whom are Republicans. In the previous Congress, it had the support of 51 cosponsors in the House, including 50 Republicans and one Democrat.


Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: tomwachs / iStock)


Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Official Title

Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.