Members of the Senate approved a resolution Thursday calling for a convention of states to add a balanced budget amendment to the U. S. Constitution.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 13 was debated for days in the Senate's Judiciary Committee, and passed by the full chamber after a voice vote following hours of impassioned debate.
Proponents of the resolution say spending in Washington is out of control. With a national debt of more than $18 trillion, they worry the country’s fiscal future hangs in the balance and say lawmakers in Washington aren’t willing to do anything about it.
Opponents of the convention of states say it’s not the balanced budget amendment they worry about, it’s the ability to control the agenda and authority of the convention once it’s called. A similar convention hasn't been called since 1787.
A convention of states can only be called by Congress after 34 states have approved similar resolutions. As many as 28 states have approved the resolution before West Virginia lawmakers.
Members of the Judiciary Committee heard testimony that as many as 32 states had passed resolutions in the past, but the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy says many of those states have rescinded their resolutions.
Congress ultimately has the authority to decide when 34 applications have been received.
SCR 13 now heads to the House of Delegates for its consideration. Resolutions, unlike legislation, do not require multiple readings on the chamber floor nor a signature by the governor to take effect.