DES MOINES, Iowa – Two Iowa House subcommittees on Wednesday advanced resolutions calling for an Article V Convention of the States to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides two ways to amend the Constitution; the first is for Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that would, the second is through two-thirds of state legislatures (34 states) petitioning for a convention to propose amendments. Whether by Congress or through a convention process, any amendments passed would require three-fourths of the states to ratify.
So far, 15 states – Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, and Utah – have had their state legislatures pass resolutions.
By a 2 to 1 vote, the first subcommittee supported H.J.R. 3, a resolution sponsored by State Rep. John Wills, R-Spirit Lake, proposing an amendment that places limitations on members of Congress.
The subcommittee consisted of State Reps. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, and Jacob Bossman, R-Sioux City.
It reads in part:
“That the Congress of the United States is hereby petitioned to propose an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, for submission to the states for ratification, to ensure that Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the members of Congress, and that Congress shall make no law that applies to the members of Congress that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States; to remove all forms of tenure, pension, and other benefits retained by members of Congress after they leave office; to require that all members of Congress past, present, and future participate in social security and transfer all funds in the congressional retirement fund to the social security system; to require members of Congress to purchase their own retirement plans; to limit increases in congressional pay to the lesser of the increase in the consumer price index, or three percent; to eliminate the current congressional health care system and require members of Congress to participate in the same health care systems available to members of the American public; and to void all contracts with past and present members of Congress.”
Also, by a 2 to 1 vote, a second subcommittee passed H.J.R 9, a resolution sponsored by State Reps. Wills, Lundgren, and Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, proposing amendments that impose fiscal restraints and limit the federal government’s power and jurisdiction.
State Reps. Lundgren and Bossman were also part of the second subcommittee and included State Rep. Christina Bohannan, D-Iowa City.
“I support having a constitutional convention. I think these are a lot of important issues to cover. However, I think it’s more important that we simply have a convention to show that the public’s concerns and issues are being heard,” Bossman said, explaining why he supports the resolutions.
He said that having an Article V convention would help bring unity.
Bossman said he hears from constituents their concern about the national debt and the fact the federal government does not balance its budget.
He’s also not concerned about a possible runaway convention noting 38 states would have to ratify any amendments.
“I don’t have a fear that there would be major wholesale changes to the Constitution. But I think that to have a good discussion. There possibly could be some agreements, maybe not possibly be some agreements, that could come from it that would improve the Constitution that hasn’t been able to be addressed at this point,” Bossman stated.
“This proposed convention has potentially far-reaching consequences. I mean, it really could completely wipe out our current constitution and replace it with something entirely different because the language here says that the delegates from Iowa to the convention are expressly limited to consideration and supportive amendments that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government. But then it goes on to say that they can consider amendments that limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. The power and jurisdiction of the federal government is everything in the Constitution. Articles I, II, and III all relate to the power and jurisdiction of the federal government,” she said.
“So we’re talking about potentially reconsidering in its entirety, the main body of the Constitution, we are also talking about completely eviscerating the Bill of Rights. Because the Bill of Rights is what’s passed in relationship to that power of the federal government. And so, for example, if we expanded the power of the federal government, which would be allowed in this convention, that would diminish the rights,” Bohannan added.
She also didn’t believe that amending the constitution would heal the country.
“I don’t think that changing the Constitution is going to fix that. But to the contrary, honestly, I think the Constitution is the only thing holding us together at this point,” Bohannan stated.
Lundgren also dismissed concern about a runaway convention based on the hurdles in place to amend the Constitution.
“it takes 34 states to apply to the federal government to call a Convention of States, and it would take 38 states to ratify any amendment, which would mean any and all amendments,” she said.
“The people should have a say in regards to how our government governs and the power and jurisdiction that our government has,” Lundgren added.
Both resolutions advance for consideration by the Iowa House State Government Committee.