Conservative leaders push for constitutional convention of states

Conservative lawmakers are continuing an ongoing push for a constitutional convention of states in order to fix some problems in what they call a runaway federal government that has refused to rein in its own power in key ways. 

State legislators want to add a balanced budget amendment and term limits for members of Congress to the U.S. Constitution as a way to force Congress to act in ways it doesn’t seem willing to do at this point in time.

The leaders met at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s policy conference last week in San Diego to discuss their plans and the progress that has been made so far.

At this point, 15 states have passed legislation to call for a convention of states, nine more have passed it in one chamber, and 17 others have introduced it to their state legislatures.

Two-thirds of states needed

If all 41 states pass the legislation, it will be more than the two-thirds of states needed to call the convention. But calling the convention is the easy part: once the convention is called, the states need to agree on the amendments, and three-fourths of states need to ratify them.

It typically takes years to go through the entire process, and a convention does not guarantee ratification.

Only 30 states have Republican-controlled legislatures, but that number could change if the seeming red wave going on right now lasts until the next election cycle.

Congress would get to set the initial rules for the convention, but the convention is not legally tied to follow those rules. In fact, the constitutional convention of 1787 saw conventioners ignore Congress’s rules and pretty much do what they wanted.

Steep road ahead

The bottom line is that the road to a successful convention is not going to be an easy one.

Still, conservatives feel like they have to try something rather than risk the country going into financial ruin and suffer career politicians that use their power to enrich themselves over a 30-year career in politics.

The problems of Congress have become systemic and appear on both sides of the aisle in different ways.

“It’s really the last line of defense that we have. Right now, the federal government’s run away. They’re not going to pull their own power back. They’re not going to restrict themselves. And so this Article V convention is really, in my opinion, is the last option that we have,” Iowa state Rep. John Wills (R), the state’s House Speaker pro tempore who backs the convention said.

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