States must lead where Congress fails

By Paul Renner – February 5, 2024

Despite some stellar leaders from Florida, it’s clear that Congress is incapable of exercising fiscal responsibility. Worse, they don’t seem to care. Nearly 100 percent of incumbents in Congress are reelected. Almost 9 out of 10 Americans support congressional term limits, but federal legislators are predictably unwilling to pass them. They have the most secure job insurance policy in America: the power of incumbency and the ability to write the laws that help secure their jobs. Their unwillingness to make difficult fiscal choices and the inability of anyone to hold them accountable hampers our growth and saddles our children and grandchildren with a $34 trillion debt.

A recent study revealed that the average American family needs to earn $11,000 more this year just to maintain the same standard of living they enjoyed in January 2021. Congress lacks the fiscal discipline to turn this around and is out of control, sinking our country deeper into debt. We cannot afford for this reckless behavior to continue.

In Florida, our state’s success is built into our constitution. Our balanced budget requirement protects our state’s fiscal health, and we benefit from new ideas and better governance with constitutionally mandated term limits. Florida’s balanced budget and term limits have helped us focus on what matters most and not waste taxpayer dollars trying to stay in office for decades.

Every American family is tasked with balancing their household budget: cutting spending to save for a rainy day, making concessions to keep up with rising prices, and only spending what they bring in. If every American family and business can do this, why can’t the federal government?

Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution outlines the process by which states can propose amendments to correct our course. The first two pieces of legislation passed this Session in the Florida House were narrowly crafted to call for a convention of the states to propose a balanced budget amendment and set term limits for Members of Congress.

With Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) support, we will be putting forward two additional resolutions in support of amendments that would give the president of the United States line-item veto authority and would prohibit Congress from excluding its members from any law it passes.

With a line-item veto, lawmakers would know the president has a scalpel to excise unnecessary spending projects without forcing a do-over of the entire budget. His authority to slash budget turkeys would provide transparency and keep lawmakers focused on prioritizing precious taxpayer resources toward their highest and best use.

It is also time for Congress to play by the same rules it imposes on the American people. The Founders never envisioned special carve-outs for the lawmakers who impose laws and the heavy hand of government on American families and businesses.

The four resolutions we will pass constitute Florida’s application to Congress under Article V of the United States Constitution to call a convention of states, limited in focus, to consider these proposed amendments alone and no others. We make clear that any delegates that deviate from their charge to consider other topics are immediately recalled and their votes outside those topics are void. This answers any concerns about a run-away convention and keeps the focus on issues that have a realistic chance of adoption by the 38 states needed to approve any amendment.

These four amendments are necessary because Congress has been unwilling to change direction. They can follow the Florida Way and enact clear, constitutional amendments to save our country from inevitable collapse, but if they fail, the states must seek those amendments under Article V. We are taking this critical step to vote in favor of these resolutions to put Washington, D.C., on notice. I urge my colleagues in other state legislatures across America to join this critical, bipartisan effort to save our country. Time is short, and it is the duty of every leader to act accordingly.

Paul Renner is Florida House Speaker.

The Hill