NAACP-Opposed Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution Fails in the U.S. House

BY A VOTE OF 261 -165, A MEASURE TO AMEND THE U.S. CONSTITUTION BY CREATING A DISASTROUS FORMULA RECKLESSLY CUTTING BUDGETS FOR BASIC HUMAN NEEDS PROGRAMS FAILS TO MEET NECESSARY TWO-THIRDS REQUIREMENT TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION

Under the terms of the debt limit law passed in August 2011 both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate are required to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution by the end of the year.  Any amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the support of two thirds majority of both the House and the Senate and then must be ratified by three-fourths of the states to be successful.

The U.S. House of Representatives was the first of the two houses to call for a vote on the NAACP-opposed proposal on November 18, 2011.  Fortunately, the House voted 261 yeas – 165 nays in favor of the amendment; 23 votes short of the two-thirds required.  Thus, even though the Senate is expected to vote on a Constitutional Amendment some time after Thanksgiving, the issue may be considered dead for this Congress.

By limiting the federal government’s ability to respond to economic turmoil, a constitutional amendment could weaken the economy by hastening or deepening recessions.  This would be especially harmful to racial and ethnic minorities, since we are traditionally much more adversely affected by any economic transition or downturn.   In short, limiting the government’s ability to respond to natural disasters or economic downturns would result in policies which would favor the wealthy and well-connected and further jeopardize the middle class and low-income Americans.  A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution would also limit or eliminate opportunities for public investments with long-term payoffs.

Rather than focus on distracting gimmicks which could prove detrimental to our national economy and our Nation’s people, the NAACP is committed to working with lawmakers who are seeking long-term common-sense solutions to our economic turmoils which will not disparately impact the most vulnerable Americans among us.

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