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Senate Moves Toward A Budget Amendment Vote

Better to put it off than risk another defeat, says Rep. Kasich

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 24) -- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said today he still thinks there could be a final vote this week on the balanced budget amendment, and conceded it may go down to defeat again.


"We do have some really tough amendments this week," Hatch told CNN's Charles Bierbauer. "I believe it's possible to get to a final vote this week, and I have high hopes that we'll still win. But we have to hold on to every vote."

Hatch, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed concern that two new Democratic senators, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, hold the measure's fate in their hands.

"If these last two freshmen congressmen leave us, either one of them, the balanced budget amendment will go down, but I'd hate to be in their shoes if they do, because they promised their constituents they would vote for it," Hatch said.

During their campaigns, both Landrieu and Torricelli said they supported a balanced budget amendment, but they recently have expressed doubts about the Republican version.

Hatch also criticized Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) for conditioning his support for the amendment on exempting the Social Security program.

"It's the phoniest issue I've ever seen," Hatch said. "Everything in the budget should be in the balanced budget amendment purview, and to take the largest item of the budget out is a risky, risky riverboat gamble."


Meanwhile, House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich said it would be better to put off the balanced budget amendment vote than risk defeat again.

"You don't want to take a vote if you don't think you are going to win," Kasich (R-Ohio) said during a weekend appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation." "My sense is that they [Senate leaders] ought to delay it."

In the House, the measure is stalled in Judiciary Committee, where some Republicans have aligned with Democrats to support an alternative opposed by the GOP leadership.

In 1995, the Senate fell one vote short of passing a balanced budget amendment.

Many Republicans say the measure would provide much-needed fiscal restraint, while many Democrats say it would tie the federal government's hands during economic downturns and could force cuts in Social Security payments. It would require a three-fifths majority to approve deficit financing in an emergency.

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