President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, called for a five-year freeze on all non-security discretionary spending. That echoed a vote in the House of Representatives earlier Tuesday that would see all non-defense discretionary spending pushed back to 2008 levels. That could result in a nearly 18 percent cut for most federal programs and agencies.
Meanwhile deficit hawks and doves are inching their way toward a March 4 showdown. That’s the day current stopgap funding expires and, in essence, the federal government has no funding. Some are predicting that another continuing resolution could be crafted, but all agree that a critical crossroads is approaching either in March or April.
“We could have two shutter points,” Idaho Senator Mike Crapo told Citydesk. “One over the continuing resolution and one over the debt-limit.”
Crapo said Congress may extend one or even two more continuing resolutions, but, said Crapo, "There will be very strong resistance to an unqualified debt limit increase.”
Crapo told Citydesk he strongly supports an idea that has bounced around Congress before—a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
“We have to force Congress to avoid debt-financed spending. We need to deal with the same fiscal restraint facing families and small businesses.”
Asked if there were enough votes to support a new Constitutional amendment, Crapo said he was fairly certain of majorities in both the House and Senate but said they were not necessarily super-majorities.
“It would require a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate, and three-quarters of all state legislatures to finally become law,” said Crapo. “Even if we don’t get all those votes, I think we need to have those debates and let the American people see where their representatives stand.”