Off Balance

In a decision that could kill the balanced budget constitutional amendment, freshman Sen. Robert Torricelli, D- N.J., this afternoon announced he will oppose the main version of the amendment.

Torricelli, whose vote was considered the deciding one by both Republican and Democratic vote counters, announced his decision after the Senate on a 63-37 vote rejected his amendment to allow the creation of a capital budget and make it easier to waive the amendment's requirements in time of economic or national security emergencies.

"The balanced budget amendment has good aspects," Torricelli told reporters. "It simply is not good enough."

Torricelli's decision left Senate Republican leaders scurrying to try to find another Democrat who might be willing to change his or her vote; there are currently 66 senators who have indicated they will support the GOP-sponsored amendment, one short of the needed two-thirds majority. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Tuesday he might have a vote in reserve if needed. "We'll have to keep working," Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said after learning of Torricelli's decision. He said he has two senators in mind whom he might try to convince to change their votes.

Pressure on Torricelli had mounted since Tuesday, when Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., announced she would vote for the version of the amendment proposed by Hatch.

GOP leaders continually cited Torricelli's previous support for the balanced budget amendment and his comments throughout his recent campaign that he supported the constitutional amendment. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he voted to send the constitutional amendment to the floor, but said that he wanted changes to be made. And in a floor speech today on his amendment, Torricelli said the Hatch version should be changed to make it easier to waive in times of war or economic recession.

"I have absolutely no regrets for having voted for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution on three different occasions," Torricelli told reporters.

The future of the balanced budget amendment in the House remained unclear. House Majority Leader Armey said Tuesday that he would not guarantee that it would be brought to the floor if the Senate defeats it. Republican leaders delayed House consideration of the amendment because it was considered in more trouble in the House than in the Senate and they hoped Senate passage would provide them with the momentum needed for House approval.

Earlier, sources said negotiations between House Republican leaders and a group of GOP members trying to protect Social Security under a balanced budget amendment were making some progress. The group -- which includes Reps. Mark Neumann, R- Wis., Mark Souder, R-Ind., and Jon Fox, R-Pa. -- has been trying to hammer out language in discussions with Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., on either a legislative solution or additional wording in the constitutional amendment.

The group wants any alternative to have more teeth than a simple "Sense of the Congress" resolution, and discussions have revolved around a Neumann plan to prevent Social Security funds from being used in other parts of the budget.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.