Despite the bill’s drastic response to what sponsor Rep. Jim Fulghum, R-Wake, decried as a “dysfunctional” Congress and a crushing national debt, he said lawmakers are taking a cautious approach by calling for a study on the issue.
“There’s a good deal of interest in whether or not this is feasible,” Fulghum said. “We did not want to run a bill that directly committed one way or the other.”
He said the bill has gained support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are interested in exploring the option of a convention, which can be called by two-thirds of the states using a little-known provision in Article V of the Constitution.
“Studying this is a good idea, and I think that, once that’s done, we’ll have a report back to the session in 2015,” Fulghum said.
Several states have applied to call a constitutional convention at various points in the past, including Florida, Alaska, Georgia and Michigan, but some have since rescinded their requests. Even so, growing discontent between states and the federal government has resulted in the passage of a flurry of similar bills across the nation.
If Congress appoints a convention, any proposed amendments must gain the approval of three-fourths of the states, which Fulghum called “a pretty big hurdle.”
Still, he said, the federal government’s high-stakes gridlock and ingrained partisanship make the convention an option worth considering.
“The danger for our economy is just so profoundly great,” he said. “The best way to do it is to have Congress get together and do their job. Obviously, that’s not happening.”
Excessive federal spending and congressional term limits are issues that could eventually spur constitutional change, he said.
“I think people need to educate themselves about the necessity of being a good citizen,” he said. “It’s your responsibility as a citizen to try and figure out how to change things for the better.”