Senate Republicans respond to State of the Union with amendment proposal

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Following Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) joined the 43 other Senate Republicans in proposing a bill to amend the U.S. Constitution with a Balanced Budget Amendment.

“The BBA requires that the federal budget must be balanced, requires the President to submit to Congress a balanced budget that limits outlays to 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), requires a supermajority in Congress to raise taxes and requires a supermajority in Congress to increase the debt limit,” Hatch said in a press release Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered the official GOP response to the State of the Union and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) delivered the tea party response. In their speeches, both Senators called for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

Following the State of the Union address, Hatch said the number one issue he hears from Utahns about is the national debt. He also said Obama talked a lot about spending more of the American people’s money.

“The President and his liberal allies just don’t get it. Spending is the reason our debt is nearing $16.5 trillion, and a Balanced Budget Amendment would force Washington live within its means, just like Utah families must do,” he said.

According to the Utah 2012 Priorities Survey, Utahns ranked “jobs and the economy” as their number one issue for the 2012 elections. Governor Romney, who ran his campaign on economic issues, won 72.8 percent of the vote in Utah.

Hatch and Lee have long championed a Balanced Budget Amendment that would force Congress to live within its means. Hatch was the lead sponsor of the BBA in the Senate last Congress, which all 47 Republican Senators signed. Rep. Justin Amash (MI-3) has already introduced a partner bill in the House as of February 6 of this year.

All four Utah representatives in the United States House of Representatives have also voted or spoken out in favor of a balanced budget amendment over the years.

The Constitution has been amended only 27 times since its birth 200 years ago. If Congress does not get two thirds approval to ratify the amendment, Rep. Christ Stewart (UT-02) said on his election site that the states must start the amendment process: “If Congress won’t move a Cut, Cap and Balance Amendment forward, we should begin the process of working a Constitutional Amendment through the states and force it upon Congress.”

Conservatives had a lot to say about Obama’s spending proposals during the State of the Union, but did not place all blame on Democrats.

“It is time Democrats admit that not every dollar spent on domestic programs is sacred. And it’s time Republicans realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud,” Paul said.

He suggested the United States start by stopping all foreign aid to countries, “that are burning our flag and chanting death to America.”

The President made several proposals, but held back on details, urging instead for Congress to do it’s job. Rubio responded to the proposals while Paul proposed some ideas of his own including a flat tax, but all Senate Republicans agree that a Balanced Budget Amendment must pass to save the economy.

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