DeSantis calls for Congressional reform, outlines Constitutional amendments

by | Jan 29, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Paul Renner introduced a series of proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution on Monday, including congressional term limits and a balanced federal budget requirement, aiming to reform federal governance and potentially using an Article V Convention to enact these changes.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, alongside House Speaker Paul Renner, outlined a series of proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution during a press conference on Monday. The changes, according to the governor, are designed to address what he views as long-standing issues in federal governance.

The first of the proposed amendments seeks to establish term limits for members of Congress, mirroring the term limits imposed on the state legislature in Florida, which DeSantis and Renner credit for fostering effective governance. Another proposal targets fiscal policy, and advocates for a balanced federal budget. This amendment would require the federal government to align its spending with its revenue to manage the national debt.

DeSantis also proposed granting the President line-item veto power, allowing the chief executive to veto specific portions of spending bills while approving the rest. The final amendment in the proposal calls for ensuring that federal laws apply equally to Congress members, intended to prevent lawmakers from exempting themselves from legislation they enact.

“At the end of the day, you look at what’s going on in D.C. and the results are always very, very poor,” DeSantis said. “They’re never really doing the business of the American people. They’re focusing on themselves. They’re focusing on their power. They’re focusing on doing things to benefit those people that are connected to the political class up there.”

To ratify the Constitutional amendments, both houses of Congress would have to pass an amendment proposal by a two-thirds majority, which is how all 27 current amendments have been enacted.

Alternatively, if enough states rally behind DeSantis’ proposal, an Article V Convention, also known as a Convention of States, can be triggered. The convention — which has never been enacted before — is a procedural mechanism in which two-thirds of the state legislatures, currently 34 states, call to propose amendments. Using this method, any proposed amendments must be ratified by three-fourths of the states (38 states) to become part of the Constitution.

“Washington’s never going to reform itself. It’s going to require us working in our individual states using the tools that the founding fathers gave us to be able to take power away from DC and return it back to the American people to make sure that the incentives are to produce good government rather than self-serving government,” said the governor.

Several pieces of legislation are currently working through the political process that explicitly calls for an Article V Convention. SCR 326 is a formal request to the U.S. Congress from the state of Florida, advocating for a constitutional amendments convention under Article V. The resolution, mirroring DeSantis’ proposal, posits an amendment that would establish term limits for members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

SCR 324 similarly calls to invoke an Article V Convention to pass a Constitutional Amendment requiring that, except in a national emergency, the total of all federal appropriations for any fiscal year cannot exceed the total of all estimated federal revenues for that fiscal year, together with any related and appropriate fiscal restraints.

The proposals have received pushback from Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Anna Eskamani, who cautioned against the ambiguity of amending the U.S. Constitution in an unprecedented manner.

“Be it further resolved that this concurrent resolution is inherently risky since there are no rules for an Article V Convention outlined in the Constitution of the United States, which means the group of people potentially convening to rewrite 9 the Constitution of the United States could be unelected and unaccountable,” wrote Eskamani in a proposed bill amendment that was struck down this month.



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