WASHINGTON -- Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., says he will press for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget even if President Reagan succeeds in getting Congress to avoid deficit spending.
'Suppose he does balance it,' Thurmond said of Reagan's pledge to end inflationary government borrowing. 'I'm pretty sure the moment he goes out, the next president -- and the next Congress -- will unbalance it.'
'I have been (here) 27 years and in the last 25 the budget hasn't been balanced but once,' Thurmond told United Press International in a recent interview. 'The Congress has not shown the restraint to do it.'
'There are so many pressures on Congress to spend for this, spend for that,' he said. 'Worthy things. Worthy goals. It is just a question that you don't have all that money to do it.'
Thurmond has already introduced a proposed amendment that would forbid deficit spending except in time of war without the approval of at least 60 Senate votes instead of a simple majority vote now required on spending bills.
Thurmond said his amendment also would 'insure that the federal sector does not spend more than the private sector in relationship to the gross national product.'
Thurmond, now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he will not press for action on his proposed amendment 'until we confer with the White House and see what their timetable is.
'They may prefer that we hold it off, although I wouldn't see too much merit in that,' Thurmond said. 'If we think they delay it too long, we may go ahead.'
Thurmond said his committee is working on new statutes that would clear the way for more trimming of federal regulations by authorizing heads of those agencies to take the action.
'There is no particular timetable,' Thurmond said. 'We are trying to work with the administration on it. We are a little ahead of them on that, probably because they have just come in.'