Acknowledging he didn’t have the votes, the Virginia state House sponsor of a resolution seeking to enjoin Virginia in an effort to call a convention of states to amend the U.S. Constitution and rein in federal power struck his own bill Thursday.
The move by Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter, Prince William Republican, came a day after the state Senate sponsor, Ryan T. McDougle, Hanover Republican, did the same thing, quashing the effort for the year.
“George Washington, who was chief among all the founders, the most important founder, observed in war that you have to see things as they are, not as you would wish them to be,” Mr. Lingamfelter said on the House floor Thursday. “It is with a heavy heart, but one resolved to come back and fight again, that I move we strike HJR 497 on Page 19 of the printed calendar.”
Mr. Lingamfelter’s effort followed an unsuccessful push last year, and he said he will bring the legislation back next year and that he’s confident it will pass.
The U.S. Constitution can be amended by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress. Article V of the Constitution also allows that “on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, [Congress] shall call a convention for proposing amendments.”
Such amendments then have to receive a three-quarters majority to be ratified.
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After the resolutions cleared the state House and Senate Rules Committee, advocates with the Convention of States project, part of the group Citizens for Self-Governance, had hoped they would clear the full legislature this year.
Three states — Alaska, Georgia and Florida — passed Convention of States’ application last year.
The group said 17 states had filed their applications for an amending convention calling for fiscal restraint, limiting the scope of the federal government, and imposing term limits.
There are resolutions still pending in the Virginia House and Senate that call for a convention for the purposes of passing a balanced budget amendment.
Opponents of the convention approach say that such a gathering could give way to a “runaway” process with competing interest groups each trying to amend the founding document to their liking. The 1787 convention was actually convened to amend the Articles of Confederation, but eventually gave way to sending the states the constitution that’s still in effect.
Proponents, though, say such concerns are overblown, and that a convention can be sufficiently tailored toward specific amendments, and that three-quarters of the states would have to sign off on any changes anyway.
A balanced budget resolution from Delegate James M. LeMunyon, Fairfax Republican, also failed on the House floor last year. A Senate version from Sen. Emmett W. Hanger, Jr., Augusta Republican, did not advance out of committee last year.