News: Quick Takes

Lawmakers vote to convene constitutional convention to rein in federal spending, power

The U.S. Capitol Building, facing east, home of Congress, and located atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Capitol Building, facing east, home of Congress, and located atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

House lawmakers want to leapfrog the federal government and convene a constitutional convention of the states to pass new amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

House Joint Resolution 233 passed in a largely party-line 62-55 vote May 5. The resolution is similar to those being considered in other states to call a constitutional convention to consider amendments to the U.S. Constitution curbing federal spending and power.

Under the stated purpose in the resolution, the terms of the constitutional convention wouldn’t be open-ended. Rather, they would be focused on the priority to “impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”

“Article V of the Constitution of the United States authorizes a process to propose amendments to the United States Constitution through a convention of the states to place clear restraints on these and related abuses of power,” H.J.R. 233 states.

To be effective, a minimum of two-thirds of the legislatures of the states would need to approve a similar resolution. Ratification of any amendments approved during the convention would require the approval of 38 of the 50 states.

To date, 33 amendments to the U.S. constitution have been approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. Of those, 27 have been ratified.

Were efforts by the states to call a constitutional convention successful, it would be the first time in the nation’s history that amendments were proposed, debated, and potentially approved in this way.