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DES MOINES — Republicans in the Iowa House have endorsed a resolution calling for a “convention of the states” to draft new amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Republican Representative Zach Nunn of Bondurant said it’s time to “restrain” the federal government.
“If the federal government cannot stand up and stop its own spending, then we, as the citizens, must stand up and help them,” Nunn said.
It would require action in at least 34 states before a national “convention of the states” could be convened. Representative Mary Wolfe, a Democrat from Clinton, said Iowa officials aren’t in a position to offer fiscal “tips” to the feds since the state will have to dip into savings to balance Iowa’s budget.
“Instead of concerning ourselves with what’s going on at the federal level, we first concern ourself with our fiscal situation right here in Iowa and get our own house and General Assembly in order,” Wolfe said.
Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a Democrat from Ames, blasted the way the resolution used words like “improper” and “manipulative” to describe the federal government.
“When I read this bill, what strikes me is the inflammatory language with no basis, no facts, no supporting details,” Wessel-Kroeschell said.
Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, said the federal government’s “power and jurisdiction” have grown to “excessive” and “irresponsible” levels.
“The debt and out-of-control spending and regulatory frenzy is not the fault of any one party and it must be dealt with in a bipartisan way with states coming together as the founders envisioned to reign in a federal government clearly incapable of controlling itself,” Holt said.
The U.S. Constitution was ratified 228 years ago, but states have never used “Article V” of the constitution to trigger a national convention that would propose new amendments to the document. House Democratic Leader Mark Smith of Marshalltown suggested there’s a reason for that.
“Once this convention is convened, it is opened up to everything under the sun and that is the reason why we have not had one occur in the history of this country,” Smith said.
Nunn, the main backer of a constitution convention, cast the potential gathering as “an opportunity to have a conversation about what type of things should be in our constitution.”
This proposal now goes to the Iowa Senate for consideration. Earlier this week Arizona became the ninth state to pass a resolution calling for a “convention of the states.” The 27 current amendments to the U.S. Constitution were proposed by congress and were ratified by at least two-thirds of the states.