U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp said Monday she’s in favor of Congress passing a balanced budget amendment, with exceptions in the case of war spending and obligations for Social Security and Medicare.

“I’ve been persuaded in the last year with the failure of the Simpson-Bowles Commission,” Heitkamp said in an afternoon conference call.

Heitkamp, the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party candidate, referred to the inability to come to a consensus on the budget following the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, commonly known as the Simpson-Bowles Commission, as well as the work of the super committee appointed by President Barack Obama as “colossal failures.”

She said these failures to act show a lack of willingness to get serious about tackling the federal budget deficit, saying it’s become obvious that the problem isn’t going to be solved by anything else than a constitutional amendment.

“They’ve got to get it done. I am going to be supporting a balanced budget amendment,” Heitkamp said.

Heitkamp explained that there needs to be flexibility in Congress’ ability to appropriate funding for war if necessary. She added that Social Security and Medicare are items that must be addressed separately and must not be subject to potentially serious cuts to benefits in the effort to balance the budget.

Heitkamp’s support is for a balanced budget amendment modeled on a proposed amendment by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., that failed in December by a 21-79 vote. Udall’s proposed amendment required an annual balanced budget unless there were a three-fifths vote of the House and Senate to waive it. Also, it would waive the requirement in time of war, protect cuts to Social Security and ban income tax breaks for people making more than $1 million per year.

Reach Nick Smith at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or at nick.smith@bismarcktribune.com.

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