Missouri Calls for Amendments to Rein in Federal Government

Published May 18, 2017

Missouri has become the fourth state in 2017 to petition Congress to convene a convention of states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 4, sponsored by Missouri state Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe (R-Cole County), petitions Congress to call “a convention of the states limited to proposing amendments to the United States Constitution that 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 members of Congress,” the resolution states.

The Missouri House approved the resolution on May 12. The Senate approved it on April 13.

The North Carolina Senate passed a similar resolution, by a 29–20 vote, on April 26.

Texas became the third state in 2017 and 11th state overall to pass a similar resolution, on May 4. Arizona and North Dakota passed matching resolutions in March.

Article V requires Congress to convene a convention when two-thirds of all states, currently 34, pass matching petitions. An amendment proposed by such a convention would go into effect upon ratification by three-fourths of all states, currently 38.

Taxpayer Protection

Patrick Ishmael, director of government accountability at the Show Me Institute, says states are asserting their lawful place in protecting taxpayers from federal government profligacy.

“Left to its own devices, the federal government has spent and accumulated debt at a startling pace for nearly two decades now,” Ishmael said. “It is encouraging to see states reasserting their collective and constitutional role in our national governance to protect taxpayers from runaway government growth.”

A constitutional amendment would reduce the lawful scope of Congress and the president’s authority over health care policy, Ishmael says.

“It’s good to see states leveraging the long-dormant Article V to rein in the federal government,” Ishmael said. “Health care is addressed indirectly through this particular call to a convention dealing with limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.”

The question of whether to limit the federal government’s power could prove easier to answer than how to limit it, Ishmael says.

“The manner with which the convention would change those jurisdictional relationships—not only in health care but in other policy areas—isn’t altogether clear,” Ishmael said. “As we have seen with health care, in particular, consensus is not always a sure thing.”

Cost Control

North Dakota Rep. Chuck Damschen (R-Hampden) says states should use a convention as a check against excessive federal spending.

“I support an Article V convention of the states for the purpose of proposing a balanced budget amendment,” Damschen said. “It may be the only way that the government will ever address the crippling debt that our country faces.”

A balanced-budget requirement would force the government to reduce spending on health care, Damschen says.

“I think we are all aware of the funding costs of the [Affordable Care Act] and any national health care plan,” Damschen said. “It will certainly be a factor when it comes to dealing with the budget. I believe the extensive cost could limit the implementation of government health care plans.”

Arianna Wilkerson ([email protected]) is a marketing coordinator at The Heartland Institute.

Image via Thinkstock