Sen. Larry Craig is so confident Congress will pass the balanced budget amendment that he’s willing to put a date on Senate approval.
“I believe on the 27th or 28th of this month, the U.S. Senate will ratify a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Craig said at a Lincoln Day dinner held in the club house at the St. Maries golf course Saturday.
It will be tough to come up with the necessary 67 votes, but it is possible, he said. Craig also expects the House to muster the votes to pass the amendment.
From there the measure will have to go to the states for ratification.
It is a quest Craig started in 1982, during his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Last year, the amendment came close to passing.
The amendment is critical to stop Congress from piling on the debt for future generations, Craig said.
Gov. Phil Batt and U.S. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, also making the rounds on the Republicans’ annual Lincoln Day dinner circuit, were eager supporters of Craig’s effort.
“The states have the right idea,” Batt said. Balanced budget mandates in state constitutions correctly force lawmakers to make a choice only between raising taxes and cutting spending, he said.
Kempthorne shares Craig’s optimism about Congress passing a balanced budget amendment.
Politicians touched on several other topics during the nearly three-hour event, that included honors for Medal of Honor recipient Vernon Baker, who lives near St. Maries. Those topics included:
Kempthorne announcing that the only hearing outside of Washington, D.C., on reauthorization of federal highway legislation will take place in Coeur d’Alene.
Craig saying he will bring one of the hearings on his proposal to change federal forest management to Coeur d’Alene in late March.
Concern from some St. Maries residents about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers having cottonwoods cut along the St. Joe River dike near town. Other St. Maries residents were glad to see the trees go. Craig noted that the integrity of the dike, which the trees threatened, is more important considering all of the taxpayer dollars going to fix the dike.
Batt spoke and fielded questions about the growing prison population in Idaho. There is a 500-bed prison about to open south of Boise and “it will only accommodate one year’s growth in the prison population,” Batt said. As a result, the state is considering the option of a 1,500-bed, privately run prison.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.