Gov. Ron DeSantis is endorsing calls for four federal constitutional amendments at a Naples press conference.
He made that call in Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s district ahead of the Senate approving legislation calling for two of the amendments. DeSantis also notably assailed the federal government in GOP U.S. Sen. Rick Scott’s backyard.
At a podium with a “Hold Washington Accountable” affixed to the front, DeSantis said it’s time to restrict Washington’s worst excesses. “Let’s stop complaining about Washington and do something to restrain Washington for a change,” he said.
With House Speaker Paul Renner at his side, DeSantis called for four separate amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which would:
— Impose term limits on members of Congress.
— Require Congress to pass a balanced budget each year.
— Provide the President with line-item veto power.
— Prohibit imposing any law on citizens that doesn’t apply to members of Congress.
The House already passed concurrent resolutions for Florida to petition Congress to convene constitutional conventions on the first two items.
The Renner-led House made those bills the first that passed on the House floor this Legislative Session. He said term limits on Florida lawmakers and a constitutional responsibility at the state level to pass a balanced budget each year have made Florida’s government responsive and financially healthy.
“No one will ever confuse us for the federal government,” Renner said.
Still, the issue drew opposition from many House Democrats, many of whom say they support those policies but fear a runaway constitutional convention. The U.S. Constitution was born from the first Constitutional Convention, held to create a replacement for the Articles of Confederation.
“What are the guardrails? And what are some of the things that we could do if there is a problem?” House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell asked on the House floor earlier this month.
While the U.S. Constitution allows for two methods to amend the Constitution, every amendment passed in American history has passed the same way, with Congress proposing amendments that later were ratified by three quarters of state Legislatures.
The House wants to use an alternative method outlined in the Constitution but never executed, calling a second constitutional convention at the request of two-thirds of state Legislatures. The resolutions passed by the House this year state that they only support a narrowly defined convention to deal with the issue at hand, and that Florida’s petition would be withdrawn if delegates work outside that scope.
The Senate has moved legislation through the Rules Committee but hasn’t voted yet on the House floor.
Passidomo told Florida Politics she supports the amendments.
“The line-item veto, term limits, and balanced budget requirements have worked well here in Florida, and help our state guard against the rampant corruption, abuses of power, and overspending we see in Washington,” she said.
“Our founding fathers envisioned elected service as a short-term sacrifice, not a means of personal enrichment in which elected officials can pick and choose which laws to follow. The American people are fed up. With these initiatives, Florida is sending a strong message that the federal government must be accountable to the people.”
DeSantis heavily criticized President Joe Biden’s handling of a number of issues including immigration, but said provisions in the Constitution would improve government, regardless who holds office.
The Legislature hasn’t acted yet on amendments seeking line-item veto power for the President or a prohibition on federal lawmakers exempting themselves from laws Congress passes. But DeSantis said those changes to the Constitution would provide checks on Congress. As Florida Governor, DeSantis has the ability to nix individual items passed by the Florida Legislature, and does every year.
DeSantis, a former member of Congress, also said federal lawmakers feel too inclined to evade mandates imposed on other citizens and federal employees.
“Remember when they did it on Obamacare?” DeSantis said. “And even when Biden did the executive order on the COVID vax mandate, they exempted Congress from that.”
In both his press conference and a video message released afterward on social media, he noted Article V in the Constitution provides ways to amend the document, and said it’s time to use them.
“Washington’s never going to reform itself. It’s going to require us working in our individual states using the tools that the founding fathers gave us to be able to take power away from D.C. and return it back to the American people to make sure that the incentives are to produce good government rather than self-serving government,” DeSantis said.