Politics & Government

Palazzo pushing balanced budget amendment with debt plan (Updated 11:40 a.m.)

Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., who was leaning “yes” on the Boehner deal to raise the debt ceiling, is now part of what appears to be a deal that revises the stalled plan that he says House Republicans can agree to later today.

At issue is the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which under the latest version of the plan, would have to be passed by the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate and sent to the states before President Obama could secure a second increase in the debt ceiling.

“As an assistant Republican whip, my job is to listen to members’ concerns and issues,” said Palazzo in an interview. “The biggest thing I was listening to from the ‘no’s,’ the overarching theme, was the Balanced Budget Amendment.”

“I spent a good portion of time listening and communicating that to leadership,” he said. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pulled the bill from the floor last night because he did not have the votes to pass it with House Republicans. House Democrats are opposed to it.

Now, said Palazzo, there are the votes for passage with the change in the Balanced Budget Agreement. The earlier version of the bill simply called for the constitutional amendment but did not link it to a second increase in the debt ceiling.

“A lot of people wanted to be able to put brakes on government spending. The Balanced Budget Amendment is the responsible way to do it. Before we authorize the president to raise the debt ceiling, not only do we have to have spending cuts in excess of the next debt ceiling increase, we have to have the Balanced Budget Amendment in place.” After passing both houses of congress by two-thirds vote, a constitutional amendment must be approved by three-fourths of the states.

“The American people have said they want to stop the spending,” said Palazzo.

“I told members with my business background why I think the Boehner plan is good and we could make it better,” he said of his conversations with lawmakers he is assigned to “whip.” “I’m a CPA, I had to do the math,” he said of his approach to the legislation.

The change in the bill, he said, “Is enough to pass the bill.”

It is a deal-changer because “it ensures we put the brakes on congressional spending.”

Boehner was facing at least 23 “no” votes last night – which was just enough to defeat the bill if he had brought it up.

“The resonating message I got when I was campaigning from South Mississippians was ‘to stop the spending,’” said Palazzo. “We’re doing what South Mississippians sent me here to do.”

Including the Balanced Budget Amendment provided “the teeth we needed to pass the House and send it to the Senate.”

Even though the Senate Democrats say the bill is DOA, “I think common sense will prevail at the end of the day.”