A state-level campaign to rein in the federal government by calling an unprecedented convention to amend the U.S. Constitution is gaining steam, picking up support from two high-profile Republicans as more states explore the idea.
The latest figures to endorse the effort are retired Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Coburn, a legendary government-waste watchdog, announced this week that he has joined the effort by becoming a senior adviser for the group Convention of States Action, which wants states, not just Congress, to pass constitutional amendments. A primary goal is to get an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced federal budget, in which spending does not exceed revenue.
Article V of the Constitution says amendments can be ratified either by Congress or by states if two-thirds of them petition Congress to call a convention. Then, any amendment proposed at the convention must be ratified by three-fourth, or 38, states.
So far, the Alaska, Florida and Georgia legislatures have each passed a resolution in support of a convention, and 25 more are considering one, according to the group.
“Our founders anticipated the federal government might get out of control,” Coburn said Tuesday. “And they gave us a constitutional mechanism to rein it in.”
Beyond getting Congress to pass a balanced budget, supporters of the largely Republican-backed effort are also focused on such issues as campaign finance reform and making sure the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t over regulate.