Does an official list of applications exist?
By Mr. MESSER – February 2023
Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant
to the following:
Article V of the Constitution requires Congress to call a
convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution “on
the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the
several states.” In order to fulfill this obligation,
Congress has the authority to enact legislation to ensure
accurate recordkeeping of state applications submitted
pursuant to Article V.
H.R. 1742’s estimate cost over 5 years to publish all “purported” Applications and revisions by year and state, not to count, was $18,000,000.
H.R. 1742 died without a hearing, co-sponsor or any committee action.
Does an “Official List” of Applications Exist?
Another issue frequently cited by convention advocates is the existence, or lack thereof, of an “official list” of state applications for an Article V Convention. According to the National Archives, state applications have traditionally not been collected in a central repository, but are scattered through the holdings of the Center for Legislative Archives, generally filed with committee papers, and arranged by the Congress in which they were received.38 FOAVC has criticized this practice, asserting that “Congress has failed miserably (most likely by design) at its duty to track and keep a count of all Article V Convention applications (so that they will know when two thirds of the states have met the prerequisite number for a peremptory Article V Convention).”39 Beginning in 2013, Article V Convention activists accelerated their campaigns for an official congressional count of state applications,40 including petitions to both the House and Senate.41
The House of Representatives established new procedures governing state actions concerning an Article V Convention in the 114th Congress, which continue in effect in the 115th Congress. A rules change directed the chair of the House Judiciary Committee to designate for public availability all such new memorials received from the states, and at the chair’s discretion, any memorial submitted by the states prior to the 114th Congress. The resolution also directed the Clerk of the House of Representatives to make the designated memorials publicly available in electronic form, organized by state and year of receipt.42 In addition, H.R. 1742, the “Article V Records Transparency Act of 2017,” introduced in the 115th Congress by Representative Luke Messer, would require the National Archives to make an organized compilation of all state applications for, and rescissions of applications for, an Article V Convention. Upon completion, the Archivist of the United States would transmit physical and electronic copies to the chairs of the Judiciary Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives for public availability.43 If this legislation were enacted and implemented, the proposed compilation would arguably meet the requirements demanded by the convention advocacy community over many years. Both congressional initiatives are examined at greater length later in this report.
H.R. 1742—Article V Records Transparency Act of 2017
On March 27, 2017, Representative Luke Messer introduced H.R. 1742, the Article V Records Transparency Act of 2017 in the 115th Congress.
This bill would direct the Archivist of the United States to compile and transmit to Congress a list of all applications for, or rescissions of applications for, an Article V Convention to consider constitutional amendments. The compilation would be cataloged by year of submission and state, and the Archivist would also be directed to report on any missing applications or rescissions. The bill would establish a five-year schedule for this initiative based on when an application was transmitted to Congress, beginning with the most recent, and concluding with the earlier applications. The committees on the judiciary of the House and Senate would be directed to make the compilation permanently available to the public and update the compilation as necessary. The bill would also recommend procedures to be followed by the states when submitting applications and would provide direct funding and grants for the compilation program to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives.
H.R. 1742 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the Rules Committee on March 27 and to the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice on April 21.
If enacted and implemented, the compilation authorized in H.R. 1742 would arguably respond to the demands for a comprehensive list of state convention applications advanced by convention advocates over many years.
Let Us Vote for FRA (fiscal responsibility amendment—aka BBA or balanced budget amendment)