H/T The Right Scoop
A growing group of state lawmakers from across the country are exploring ways to limit the power of the federal government by using a seldom-referenced clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Last week, the President Pro Tempore of the Indiana State Senate David Long (R-Fort Wayne) joined an effort to explore convening a Constitutional convention pursuant to Article V of the Constitution.
Long joins legislators from Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin who have all signed a letter calling for every state to send a three-person bipartisan delegation to George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon, Virginia on December 7th.
The purpose of the Mount Vernon Assembly is to plan an Article V Constitutional Convention. The exact nature of proposed amendments is presently unclear.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides a way from state legislatures to amend the country’s most authoritative founding document. Under Article V, two-thirds of state legislatures may call on Congress to convene a convention, and three-fourths of states can vote to ratify any amendments – without or without Congress’ approval.
There has never been an Article V convention.
“The authors of the Constitution included a state-led amendment option as a check on a runaway federal government,” Long said, according to a story in the Northwest Indiana Times. “The dysfunction we see in Washington, D.C., provides an almost daily reminder of why this option is needed now more than ever.”
Maine has previously joined Article V convention efforts, with 20th century proposals for the direct election of U.S. Senators, the repeal of the 16th Amendment (Income Tax), and the establishment of revenue sharing agreements between the states and federal government.
Article V of the Constitution states: “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”
The assembly, inspired by conservative commentator Mark Levin’s latest book, The Liberty Amendments, will likely feature constitutional amendments designed to rein in what many see as a federal government that is out of control.
In his book, Levin proposes the following amendments to the Constitution:
1.) Term limits: Levin proposes limiting the tenure of Senators and Representatives to no more than 12 years.
2.) Repealing the 17th Amendment: Levin argues in favor of repealing the 17th Amendment, thus returning the election of U.S. Senators to state legislatures. The 17th Amendment was ratified during the American progressive movement as a way of giving power to the people, but Levin argues its repeal would ensure that state sovereignty is protected.
3.) Judiciary Power Check: Levin proposes 12-year term limits for justices of the Supreme Court. Additionally, he proposes creating a procedure for Congress and the state legislatures to overturn court decisions with a three-fifths vote.
4.) Limitation of Taxation and Spending: Levin’s balanced budget amendment would cap federal spending at 17.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and require a super majority, or three-fifths vote, of Congress to raise the debt ceiling. In addition, he proposes limiting the federal government’s ability to tax individuals at 15 percent. On the cheekier side, he proposes moving tax day to the day before federal elections.
5.) Reining in Regulations and Bureacracy: Levin proposes an amendment to require all federal agencies to be subjected to stand-alone reauthorization every three years. He also proposes an automatic sunset provision for all federal regulations.
6.) Cabining the Commerce Clause: Levin’s proposed amendment would clarify that the Commerce Clause does not delegate supreme regulatory authority to the federal government.
7.) Limiting the federal government’s power to confiscate private property.
8.) Make it easier for states to amend the Constitution: Under this amendment, only two-thirds, rather than three-fourths, of states would need to vote in favor of proposing an amendment.
9.) Giving states the ability to override Congress: Levin’s proposal would allow states to overdie federal law by a majority vote in two-thirds of state legislatures.
10.) Election Integrity: The last of Levin’s amendments would enact a nationwide photo ID requirement for federal elections and establish limits on early voting.
It is unclear whether any Maine lawmakers have agreed to participate in the Mount Vernon meeting.
Time for the inevitable cave in.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will soon announce an agreement to reopen the government and avert default on U.S. debt, according to several sources familiar with the talks.
The House plans to move on the Senate’s bill first, sources say, a move that would clear a path to end the first government shutdown in 17 years and avoid the first potential economy-shaking default on U.S. debt. It remains unclear when a final vote would occur in the Senate.
If the House passes the bill first and sends it to the upper chamber, it would eliminate some burdensome procedural hurdles in the Senate and require just one procedural roll call with a 60-vote threshold needed to advance the bill toward final passage in the Senate.
Update: Boehner sealing his fate as House speaker?
(Hot Air) – The endgame will arrive a little sooner than expected, thanks to a deal cut with John Boehner to take the first plunge on a bipartisan plan to end the budget standoff before the theoretical debt-ceiling limit gets breached. Instead of the Senate taking up the proposal from Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell first, Boehner will allow a vote – without amendments – and have it pass with Democrats making up the difference from expected opposition from conservatives
The problem with the GOP establishment Republicans is that they begin every fight believing that nothing is ever worth fighting for and then they immediately surrender the first time the fight gets tough to prove it. The problem with that kind of thinking is that if you’re not willing to fight for anything in politics, you never accomplish much of anything either.
Tim Huelskamp gets that. Do the GOP’s leaders in Congress get it, too?
Representative Tim Huelskamp (KS-1) issued the following statement, warning the GOP establishment that caving (on the shut down) would be a huge mistake:
“If true, such an abandonment of conservative principles would dispirit, dismay, and anger the entire conservative base of the Republican party – and for any of my colleagues pushing such a deal, it would seriously jeopardize their future chances of becoming elected leadership in the House. Now is the time to stand firm – not capitulate to the Left.
“It is my hope that Republican leadership will not abandon our principled opposition to ObamaCare. Claiming to oppose ObamaCare while simultaneously allowing 98% of it to move forward would be in direct contradiction to the Pledge to America and nearly every other campaign promise made by Republicans in the last three years.”
I can’t speak for anyone else, but my position is that if the GOP doesn’t have the courage and the skill to win a political shutdown battle when Obama is publicly saying he won’t compromise while he picks on kids with cancer and veterans while he kicks old people out of their homes, then they’re just not up to the job and it’s time to step aside. McConnell’s willingness to deliberately undercut the House in an effort to give in as fast as possible shows he’s not fit to lead, but Boehner for all his flaws, is still in the game. Conservatives are watching and his speakership is on the line. Whether he knuckles under or at least fights to get some concessions will prove whether he’s worthy to continue to lead.
In South Dakota, the federal government blockaded portions of a state highway during a devastating early season blizzard near Mt. Rushmore to prevent sightseers from snapping a picture of the storm-obscured landmark.
Priests have been threatened with arrest for, well, doing what priests do for parishioners on military bases.
Private businesses have been ordered closed down.
“Gestapo-like” rangers ordered tourists in Yellowstone, who had paid their admission, to get back on their bus and go to their hotel, where armed officers guarded the doors.
There even was an attempt to close an ocean.
This all would be preparation for a massive terror threat endangering millions?
Or maybe for a natural disaster?
All because the White House disagreed with Republicans over funding for a portion of the federal government.
The egregious federal government actions during the partial government shutdown, triggered when President Obama refused to even talk with Republicans about their compromise budget offers, have left Americans shaking their heads, from veterans at a World War II memorial in Washington that is open to the air but “barrycaded” by the Obama administration, to those wondering how a government could close an ocean.
One National Park Service worker quoted by the Washington Times said the orders from the Obama administration were to punish Americans.
“We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting,” he said.
WND columnist Gina Loudon already has listed the “top 10 most insane moments” of the Obama-Reid shutdown.
1) “Not only did Obama include the National Institute of Health’s experimental treatments for children with terminal cancer in the shutdown, he has threatened to veto funding that Republicans have offered to reinstate. And all along we thought it was Republicans who wanted children to die.”
2) “Military suicides are at an all-time high. Obama’s answer to that? Remove their chaplains! The chaplains know the importance of their work for our service members during this tumultuous time in the throes of the Navy Yard shootings, Benghazi and the rest of it, so they offered their services for free. Obama’s response? He said chaplains can be arrested if they voluntarily serve our military.”
3) “The Library of Congress website was shut down until Oct. 4. Loc.gov was redirected to a notice that it was no longer available due to the shutdown. On Friday, one of the essential bureaucrats in Washington discovered that leaving the website up actually costs nothing. At last glance, the LOC website is back up and running. In related news, the FCC social media team announced they will not be tweeting due to the shutdown. What will we do without tweets from the FCC?”
4) “National Park Service employees descended onto the home of George Washington at Mt. Vernon to erect barricades after the government was shut down. But, just as Washington ran the British out of Boston after they barricaded the city, the staff at the estate turned the government employees away and removed the barricades. Mt. Vernon has been privately funded for 150 years, and the government had absolutely no authority to shut it down.”
5) “Although no funding exists to keep the World War II memorial open, somehow, funding was found to erect a barricade. Each day, as veterans in their eighties and nineties break through the barricades at the memorial like they did at Omaha Beach, federal employees are paid to come reconstruct them.”
6) “Just as Hitler posted troops at Normandy to keep the allied forces out, President Obama is now turning away those who wish to pay their respects at the Normandy American Cemetery. More than 9,000 patriots who gave their lives were laid to rest at the D-Day Memorial, and respecting their service and sacrifice is not allowed during the shutdown, thanks to the Barack Obama and Harry Reid.”
7) “The Armed Forces Network will not be broadcasting sports programming to our troops overseas. While our troops on the front line in the war on terror will have their MLB and NFL games blacked out, you can bet that President Obama will still be watching Sports Center in the White House every night as he is known to do.”
8) “Although an automated camera has been posting pictures of Old Faithful’s eruptions on the web around the clock for years, it has been shut off. Teams of rangers have been busy erecting and maintaining barricades around Yellowstone National Park and running off anyone trying to enjoy the natural beauty of the park, but they took a break from all of that work to pull the plug on the geyser’s webcams.”
9) “We know the president’s priorities, and golf is at the top of that list. Golf courses at military installations remain open and funded while grocery stores at those sites are shut down.”
10) “WJLA is reporting that scenic overlooks next to roadways have been barricaded and signs have been erected telling passersby that they are closed due to the shutdown. These areas where tourists may stop to enjoy a scenic view of the nation’s capital cost nothing to keep open, but the Obama administration is trying to create a scenic view of its own – a city that he has shut down and seeks to blame Republicans.”
But there are so many other examples.
Katie Pavlich at Townhall reported the National Park Service blocked the road leading to “the sacred ground near Shanksville, Pa., where 9/11 Flight 93 crashed 12 years ago.
“The petty and ghoulish Spite House strikes again,” she wrote. “Barrycades blocking WWII vets from their memorial, denying death benefits to military families and now this. The Flight 93 National Memorial is an open field for crying out loud.”
Loudon noted that Jeff Reed of American Family Radio put it like this: ‘The sad reality is … Obama sent more guards to keep WWII vets from entering their memorial than he sent to Benghazi.”
Here’s a representative list of the management of the federal government:
* The general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA said that contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases are not permitted even to volunteer. “They risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.”
* Officials barricaded the open-air points from which to view the Lincoln Memorial and watched as a defiant visitor or two simply walked on up. Said John Ervin of Hermann, Mo.: “We should be allowed to see all these things… our national treasures, our national monuments.”
* About that ocean: It was the National Park Service that told charter boat captains in Florida that Florida Bay was now closed down. The Obama administration actually prohibited fishing boats from taking anglers into 1,100 square miles of open ocean.
* Two senior citizens who live in their private home on Lake Mead were ordered out. A park ranger told Joyce and Ralph Spencer, 77 and 80, they had 24 hours to vacate. Their home is privately owned but is inside federal land.
* Federal officials ordered the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a private business enterprise, to close down. The owner make headlines by defying the orders. “I’m questioning their authority to shut me,” said Bruce O’Connell.
* But a variety of other private marinas, restaurants and inns linked to federal attractions all were ordered closed, throwing thousands out of work.
* About Mt. Rushmore, Jim Hagen, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, said: “They won’t even let you pull off on the side of the road. I just don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish.”
* Authorities used “Gestapo tactics” on senior citizens visiting Yellowstone National Park, locking them inside their hotel under “armed guard” during the Obama administration’s government shutdown, according to a guide. Officials even refused to allow the tourists to stop for bathroom breaks during the two-and-a-half hour drive out of the park, he said. Guide Gordon Hodgson said a ranger approached him while he was providing a tour to visitors and allowed them to stop and take photographs. “She told me you need to return to your hotel and stay there. This is just Gestapo tactics. We paid a lot to get in. All these people wanted to do was take some pictures.”
* CBS in Philadelphia reported a marathoner, John Bell, 56, was ticketed for running in Valley Forge National Historical Park.
* A dog therapy program, which arranges for dogs to visit patients in hospitals, including children with cancer, was suspended by the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health.
* NBC reported the federal government is withholding a $100,000 payment to the families of five soldiers killed over the weekend in fighting in Afghanistan.
There were some things considered essential, however:
* The exclusive gyms available only to members of Congress were staying open.
With 74 percent of White House staff furloughed, decisions had to be made about where to save money.
Apparently, the only part of whitehouse.gov that needed to be cut was the “We the People” petition page, which allowed Americans to create petitions and voice their opinions to the White House.
The feature’s landing page reads “due to Congress’s failure to pass legislation to fund the government, ‘We the People’ has been temporarily disabled.”
This means that Americans have not been able to create or sign petitions for “We the People” throughout the entire government shutdown debate.
The promise when the feature was unveiled was that if a petition received 100,000 signatures or more, it would garner a response from the Obama administration.
So much for that, though, curiously, every other part of whitehouse.gov works and has been updated as recently as Tuesday: Blog posts are still being written, photos are still uploaded, press secretary Jay Carney’s press briefings are still live-streamed, statements are still posted and all the information pages are still up and running.
Everything is accessible except for the one part of the website that allowed average citizens to connect with their president.
While some Republican members of the U.S. House are standing firm in the spending negotiations (or lack thereof) with Democrats, there are reportedly at least 12 GOP House members who are ready to fully fund Obamacare to end the partial government shutdown.
In order for Senate Democrats to get their way and get a “clean” continuing resolution passed by the House, only five other Republicans would have to defect, or a total of 17. A clean CR would leave Obamacare in tact and fund the rest of the government in full.
The Huffington Post is keeping count and provides a current list of GOP congressmen ready to fully fund Obamacare and give up the spending fight that resulted in the first partial government shutdown in 17 years [emphasis added]:
Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.): “At this point, I believe it’s time for the House to vote for a clean, short-term funding bill to bring the Senate to the table and negotiate a responsible compromise.” [Press Release, 10/1/13]
Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.): “Time for a clean [continuing resolution].” [Official Twitter, 10/1/13]
Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.): “Enough is enough. Put a clean [continuing resolution] on the floor and let’s get on with the business we were sent to do.” [Burlington County Times, 10/1/13]
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.): A Fitzpatrick aide tells the Philadelphia Inquirer the congressman would support a clean funding bill if it came up for a vote. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/1/13]
Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.): Barletta said he would “absolutely” vote for a clean bill in order to avert a shut down of the government. [Bethlehem Morning Call, 10/1/13]
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.): King thinks House Republicans would prefer to avoid a shutdown and said he will only vote for a clean continuing resolution to fund the government, according to the National Review Online. [NRO, 9/30/13]
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.): The California Republican told The Huffington Post he would ultimately support a clean continuing resolution. [Tweet by The Huffington Post's Sabrina Siddiqui, 9/30/13]
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.): “I’m prepared to vote for a clean [continuing resolution].” [The Huffington Post, 9/29/13]
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.): A Wolf aide told The Hill that he agrees with fellow Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell (R) that it’s time for a clean continuing resolution. [The Hill, 10/1/13]
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.): A Grimm aide told The Huffington Post that the congressman supports a clean continuing resolution. [10/1/13].
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.): A local news anchor in Minnesota tweeted that Paulsen told him he would vote for a clean resolution if given the chance. [Blake McCoy Tweet, 10/1/13]
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.): A constituent of Wittman’s sent The Huffington Post an email she got from the congressman indicating he would vote for a clean funding bill but hasn’t had “an opportunity to do so at this point.” [10/1/13]
Mark Levin opened his show with another epic monologue that puts this whole government shutdown fiasco into perspective. I know it runs 14 minutes but it is well worth it.
H/T The Right Scoop
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