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Barrow and Collins co-sponsor dueling Balanced Budget Amendments

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In a sign that 2014 is never too far away, Twelfth District Democrat John Barrow is attaching his name to a Constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget for the federal government.

Along with fellow Blue Dog Caucus member Henry Cuellar of Texas, Barrow is co-sponsoring H.J. Res. 4, which “would prohibit spending for a fiscal year from exceeding total revenue for that year unless Congress, by a three-fifths roll call vote of the House and Senate, authorizes the specific excesses.”

Two months off defeating Republican Lee Anderson for a fifth-term, the move marks another step by Barrow to distance himself from the left-of-center elements within his party’s House membership. In the midst of the fiscal cliff negotiations, he came out strongly against a congressional pay raise that was set to be authorized by a White House executive order. Yesterday, for the second consecutive time, he cast a vote for Georgia colleague John Lewis over House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for Speaker.

Barrow also joined every member of Georgia’s Republican delegation as the state’s lone Democrat in voting against the fiscal cliff deal passed by both the House and Senate.

“We’ve reached a point where our debt is unsustainable, and unless we act now to get our finances in order, future generations will be forced to pay for this out of control spending. Our bill requires the federal government to operate just like folks in Georgia – spending only what we can afford and balancing our budgets, it’s that simple,” stated the Barrow, who represents a district that voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney in the presidential election.

Meanwhile, newly-minted Republican Rep. Doug Collins had a hefty first day in office, attaching his name to two pieces of legislation that would also require an amendment to the Constitution mandating a balanced budget.

“It’s not a hard concept to understand, we simply cannot continue to spend money we do not have,” stated the Ninth District’s new congressman via press release. “Actively supporting a balanced budget amendment is one of the best ways to move our country toward fiscal stability. If American families and business are required to balance their checkbooks, why should the federal government be any different?”

Collins is co-sponsoring the amendments with fellow Republican Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, who serves as Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet.

Given that the makeup of the House tilts in favor of Republicans, it’s likely that Barrow’s version of the amendment will remain a largely symbolic appeal to voters back home, while the Collins’s tandem with Goodlatte may see more daylight.

Unlike Barrow and fellow Georgia Republican Paul Broun, who cast his vote for outgoing Congressman Allen West, Collins voted to give Ohio Rep. John Boehner a second-term as Speaker.

“But as Republicans, we’re going to come together and express a plan for the future of the country,” said the freshman from Gainesville in a profile by the AJC’s Daniel Malloy.

-Brandon Howell