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Reining in D.C. will take a convention of states

by TOM MCGILLVRAY
| March 9, 2021 7:00 AM

The Montana Senate recently voted on a crucial measure to address the current fiscal crisis ongoing in Washington, D.C. Informed citizens know U.S. debt is now approaching $28 trillion. This does not count over $220 trillion of unfunded liabilities or the $4 trillion of planned deficit spending over the next 12 months by the current administration.

The U.S. government currently borrows, or “prints,” 48 cents of every dollar it spends. As a Republican state senator, it is unconscionable that massive deficit spending is now common under both Republican and Democratic administrations. If you thought you were voting for fiscal conservatives when you voted Republican over the last decade, I’m sorry to inform you that you were duped. If you think Democrats will fix this, I have oceanfront property in eastern Montana for sale.

The legislation I sought to pass in the Montana Senate was an application to the U.S. Congress under Article V of the Constitution to “call a convention for proposing amendments.” When the Constitution was written, there were two paired powers given to amend the Constitution. First, “congress whenever two-thirds of both houses deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this constitution, or upon the application of two-thirds of the several states shall call a convention for proposing amendments.” The Founding Fathers knew there would come a time when Congress would no longer have the nation’s interest at heart and would not address its own abuse of power. Therefore, they gave the responsibility to correct congressional abuse to the states when Congress would be unwilling to act.

That is why I brought SJ 2, the resolution to call for a convention of states to draft amendments to the U.S. Constitution on the following subjects: to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and to impose term limits on its officials and members of Congress.

Amendments drafted at the convention of states could fall along the lines of a balanced budget amendment or a single-subject amendment so Congress could no longer vote on 6,000-page bills that no one has read, and term limits. These are common sense provisions that are found in the Montana Constitution. Why not apply them to Congress before it is too late?

Any amendments proposed at the convention would have to be ratified by three-fourths (38) of U.S. states. That is a high bar set by the Constitution for ratification of any amendment proposed at a convention of states under Article V.

SJ 2, the resolution I sponsored to call for a convention of states, may be our last hope to save our nation. Washington, D.C., has proven itself to be hopelessly inept, corrupt and divided. The imperial congress will not impose any discipline on itself. Therefore, it is up to the states to fix Washington. Unless you think all is well in Washington, it is time all Montanans support a convention of states. That is why I sponsored SJ 2.

Although SJ 2 narrowly failed on the second reading in the Senate, I plan to continue this battle for the soul of our nation. Please join me in this endeavor.

The author is a Republican state senator from Billings, representing District 23.