Conservatives are pushing for an unprecedented Constitutional convention of the states to make changes to the federal budget, term limits and the 17th Amendment.
“They literally see this as the survival of the nation,” said Karla Jones, director of the federalism task force at the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, told the Associated Press in a report published on Saturday.
For nearly 230 years, any amendments to the Constitution have been made through acts of Congress with the support of two-thirds of both the House and the Senate. Once both chambers signed off on the proposal, at least three-quarters of the states would have to sign off on the amendment as well.
And even though amendments can originate in the states — a right granted in the second clause of Article V — it has never been done before. Different political groups have tried to call a convention to order, once in the 1980s and again in the 1960s, but neither attempt ever came to fruition.
And even though Republicans have controlled all three branches of government for nearly two years, momentum is building for a first-time convention. Legislation promoted by the Convention of States Project calling for a convention has now been passed by 12 states. The group claims that 18 other states are also considering the measure.
Mark Meckler, a leader of the Tea Party, told the Associated Press that the Constitutional convention “was specifically intended for a time like this, when the federal government gets out of control and when the Congress won’t deliver to the people what they want.”
Even with a Republican president, House of Representatives and Senate, the GOP has not managed to pass some of its ideal legislation. Efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, have been halted multiple times. And though Donald Trump has targeted immigrants with draconian policies, some would like to see non-whites treated even more harshly.
The possiblity that the GOP will lose control of the House to Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections will mean that conservatives will have an even harder time passing legislation.
But according to the report, some of the issues conservatives calling for a convention have in mind deal with establishing term limits for members of Congress and a potential repeal of the 17th Amendment, which allows the public to elect senators instead of the state legislatures.
In order for a Constitutional convention to be successful, two-thirds of the states must call for the convention and at least three-fourths must approve of the amendment or change.