House prepares to vote on balanced budget proposal

By JIM ABRAMS | November 18, 2011 | 4:00 AM EST

Rep. Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y., center, accompanied by, from left, Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., Rep. Austin Scott, R-G., and Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., shows a photo of her children, Will and Jack, during a House Republican freshmen news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011, to discuss a Balanced Budget Amendment. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is voting on a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, a step some see as the only way to fix a Congress divided over how to put its fiscal affairs in order.

The vote Friday will be the first by the House on a balanced budget amendment since 1995, when a similar proposal passed with the support of a Republican majority and 72 Democrats.

This time, while Republicans enjoy a stronger majority than in 1995, the odds of passage are longer. The White House has come out against it, and the Democratic leadership is urging members to reject it. The Democratic leaders warn that during an economic downturn forced spending cuts could have dire consequences.