OGDEN -- U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, says the federal government could take lessons from Utah's state government and from Abraham Lincoln.
Lee attended the Lincoln Day dinner in the Eccles Conference Center on Thursday evening as its keynote speaker and called for more conservative federal spending. The federal government could take a simple lesson from the way that Utah has handled its budgets -- don't spend more than you have, he said.
"Lincoln did the right thing," he said. "America should stick with the road map it was given."
One direction of that map is fiscal responsibility, which is a "big issue for everyone," he said. Congress is wrestling with how to balance the nation's budget, which could include $1.2 trillion it needs to keep the government operating when existing funding authority expires on March 4.
If federal spending continues as is, within a decade America may be spending more than $1 trillion each year on interest on the national debt, he said.
He summarized his approach to smarter spending in a Constitutional amendment he's sponsoring with Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, that would require a balanced budget every fiscal year. The amendment would limit federal spending to no more than 18 percent of the gross domestic product and require a two-thirds vote from both houses of Congress to increase taxes or circumvent the other two rules of the amendment.
A Utah legislative resolution supporting an amendment that requires a balanced federal budget passed a state Senate committee Thursday after passing the House 63-6 on Feb. 16.
"I look forward to the day when a balanced budget is no longer newsworthy," Lee said.
Lee said if Congress does not pass a balanced budget, the federal government should not increase its debt ceiling. He is prepared to filibuster any such increase.
Some of his Democratic colleagues across the aisle have warned that a filibuster would result in a default on national debt. Lee dismisses this as nothing more than partisan scare tactics.
The public Lincoln Day dinners are an annual fundraiser for the Republican party that invites prominent political figures and the public to meet and greet. They are traditionally held near Lincoln's birthday.
Lee was the obvious choice as keynote speaker because he is the freshman Congressman, said Matthew Bell, chairman of the Weber County Republican Party.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.