Reining in the Federal Government

Over the last decade, you would be hard-pressed to find many Americans who are pleased with the United States Congress.  While Republicans, Democrats, and Independents struggle to find consensus on several topics, there is broad agreement on their dissatisfaction with Congress.  Congress’ approval ratings are near rock bottom and Americans are frustrated by the longstanding and intractable gridlock seen out of Washington D.C. in recent years.

The United States Congress has consistently proven itself incapable of tackling many of our country’s most pressing challenges, specifically on aspects of fiscal management.  Our national debt exceeds $20 trillion, we saddle future generations with multi-billion dollar budget deficits, and much-needed reforms are left undone.  More often than not, issues of national importance and strong public interest are ignored for political convenience.  Aside from a few victories, Congress has become paralyzed from doing anything meaningful in recent years.

That is precisely why the framers included Article V in our Constitution.  This often forgotten provision provides states with the authority to institute change when Congress fails to act by calling a convention to propose new amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

While this hasn’t happened in more than 200 years, a convention made up of the states can be organized when two-thirds of the state legislatures (34 of 50) call for such a meeting.  During this convention, leaders from all fifty states can offer changes to our Constitution which the group can vote to approve.  Following the convention, any proposed amendments that are accepted must go through the normal amendment process where three-fourths of the states must approve of any proposed amendments to the Constitution that result.

One of the key goals of assembling a convention of should be to enact fiscal restraints on our Federal Government to bring more accountability to the American people.  Virtually every state in the entire country requires a balanced budget whether it is through statute or in their constitution.  It is not unreasonable to expect the same of our Federal Government and most Americans agree.

In my home state of Iowa, the House has passed a resolution calling for a convention for the last several years.  Countless other states, both red and blue, have done this as well and it’s clear why.  State Legislatures have a front row seat to the many unfunded mandates and inflexible rules that the Federal Government imposes on state governments.  States understand that the Feds often go too far and encroach on state’s rights to meet the needs of their own citizens and see a convention as a way to combat this constant overreach.

There are countless other individuals and organizations who are interested in this topic as well, and are working closely with states make a convention of the states a reality.

States have always been, and will continue to be, America’s laboratories of democracy.  While the Founders may not have realized this when they first drafted our Constitution, they recognized the critical role that states play and granted them the authority to rein in the Federal Government when necessary.

The time for a convention of states is now to ensure a bright future for the generations to come.

In Depth: Federalism

Genuine accountability to hardworking taxpayers results when state and local legislators work with members of the community to determine a plan of action that is right for each individual state, city or town. Real solutions to America’s challenges can be found in the states – America’s fifty laboratories of democracy…

+ Federalism In Depth