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Balanced Budget Amendment Fails in House

Republicans were unable to rally sufficient Democratic support today and the House voted down a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

The measure failed 261-165, falling well short of the two-thirds majority needed to send it to the Senate.

Speaker John Boehner blamed the failure on Democrats, who despite some intraparty whipping, largely voted against the measure.

“It’s unfortunate that Democrats still don’t recognize the urgency of stopping Washington’s job-crushing spending binge,” the Ohio Republican said.

Just 25 Democrats voted for the bill, most of them members of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition which has long supported the concept.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) teamed with the measure’s sponsor, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), to round up Democratic support.

While some Democrats were undecided earlier this week, the tide turned when Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), who supported a balanced budget amendment when the House passed it for the first time in 1995, whipped against the measure this time around.

“The whole fight over the debt limit was very damaging. It kind of poisoned the well,” DeFazio said after the vote. “That really peeled some people off then and then when Steny Hoyer took an official position against it and started whipping against it that hurt us with some other people who were on the fence.”

Just four Republicans voted against the measure, but that included two committee chairmen.

Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier said he thinks the amendment is unnecessary.

“We have rules,” the California Republican said. “The Constitution is not flawed. We can balance the budget under the current Constitution we have, we don’t need to amend it to make that happen.”

Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, on the other hand, thought the measure was not conservative enough.

“I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes,” the Wisconsin Republican said in a statement. “Spending is the problem, yet this version of the BBA makes it more likely taxes will be raised, government will grow and economic freedom will be diminished. Without a limit on government spending, I cannot support this amendment.”

GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann returned from the campaign trail to cast a vote for BBA, her first vote since Oct. 26.

“This amendment would have put an end to out-of-control government spending by holding both the president and Congress accountable for creating and maintaining a balanced budget for our nation,” the Minnesota Republican said.

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