The Tennessee Senate approved Thursday a resolution to request Congress call a convention of the states to draft an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring a balanced federal budget.
SJR 493, sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, passed the full Senate, 28-0, with no debate.
"Seventeen trillion of debt is what the federal government has right now," Kelsey said on the Senate floor. "$17 trillion of debt is the number one threat to national security. We have to do something about this. The federal government has to learn to live within its means, and that's why SJR 493 is before you.
"SJR 493 would call for an Article V convention of the states for the proposal of an amendment to the United States Constitution, which would say that in the absence of a congressional declaration of war or economic recession, that the federal government must balance its budget," Kelsey continued.
Supporters of the convention maintain that it's the only way to rein in excessive federal spending, while critics fear a "runaway convention" may tinker with fundamental characteristics of the nation's founding document.
If the resolution passes the House, Tennessee would become the 22nd state with an active petition for a convention of the states. For a convention to be called, Congress would have to receive requests from two-thirds of the states, or 34 states.
The measure is scheduled to be heard on the House floor Monday, March 10.
Contact staff writer Alex Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6592.