House Republicans Introduce Constitutional Amendment to Limit Spending

By Susan Jones | March 4, 2010 | 6:31 AM EST

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) introduces a spending limit amendment to the U.S. Constitution on Wednesday, March 3, 2010. Joining Pence (left to right) are Republican Reps. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Tom McClintock (Calif.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio). (Photo courtesy of Pence’s Web site)

( – Two House Republicans have introduced a spending limit amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“With our nation facing a fiscal crisis, it is time to fundamentally change the way Washington spends the taxpayers’ money,” Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said in a statement on Wednesday.
Pence and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) say their proposed amendment will give the American people a “unique opportunity to define the size and scope of the federal government for future generations.”
They say lawmakers have a moral obligation to control spending: “Unless we change course, the public debt will consume the entire economy in less than fifteen years,” Pence said. “Runaway spending and record debt will make future generations of Americans less free, less prosperous and less secure.”
 The proposed amendment reads as follows:
SECTION 1. Total annual outlays shall not exceed one-fifth of economic output of the United States of America, unless two-thirds of each House of Congress shall provide for a specific increase of outlays above this amount. Total outlays shall include all outlays of the United States Government, except for those for repayment of debt principal.
SECTION 2. The Congress may waive the provisions of this article while a declaration of war is in effect.
SECTION 3. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
SECTION 4. This article shall take effect beginning the fifth fiscal year after its ratification.
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Pence and Hensarling warning of escalating federal spending, borrowing, and debt accumulation.

They said the U.S. cannot tax its way out of the problem, nor can it “grow” or borrow its way out of the problem. The only alternatives, they said, are spending discipline or inflation.
“We cannot have both unlimited government and unlimited opportunity,” they wrote.