Democratic congressional leaders and President Barack Obama oppose House Republicans’ balanced-budget amendment, but the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate/conservative Democrats feels differently. The 25-member House group officially backed the amendment Wednesday, The Hill
“We were advancing a balanced-budget amendment when balanced-budget amendments weren’t cool,” coalition Co-Chairman Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., told reporters on a conference call.
Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, another blue dog leader, said he expects “a significant majority” of members to support the amendment. The vote is likely to come Friday, and the amendment needs two-thirds support to pass.
“If any Blue Dog does not vote for it, I’d have to question how much they’re a Blue Dog,” Matheson said.
Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer has been an ally of the blue dogs, but not on this issue, even though he voted for a similar amendment in 1995. He opposes it now because he says the GOP can’t be trusted to make responsible fiscal decisions and forego a balanced budget during an emergency.
In response to the blue dog move, Hoyer spokeswoman Katie Grant told The Hill: “Mr. Hoyer shares the blue dogs’ commitment to balancing our budget and restoring fiscal discipline, and appreciates their leadership on fiscal issues.”
Liberals, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have objected consistently to a balanced-budget amendment. The White House issued a statement of opposition, even though a constitutional amendment needs no presidential approval.
Blue dog leaders termed the Democratic leadership’s opposition to the amendment “unfortunate” and said the measure has widespread support from the public.
Most Republicans are expected to vote for the amendment, although some conservatives don’t like the idea that it fails to include a stipulation that tax increases must be approved by a two-thirds majority.
If all current House members vote, the amendment would need 290 votes to pass, including at least 48 Democrats.
The debt limit deal reached in August requires that both the House and Senate vote on a balanced budget amendment by the end of the year.
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