With the intent to require the federal government to operate under a “balanced budget,” state Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, promoted a resolution Thursday that would require the federal government to spend less than it receives. 

In a statement, Kapenga said the government’s past fiscal “irresponsibility” has resulted in nearly 20 trillion dollars in federal debt.

The states, however, can intervene through Article V of the U.S. Constitution — which gives the states an opportunity to counteract the federal constitution.

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Congress must propose amendments to the Constitution if two-thirds of both houses call for it.

The states can also call for amendments to the Constitution. To do this, Congress must call a convention for proposing amendments if the legislatures of two-thirds of several states request it.

At the moment, the states are not far from meeting this two-thirds stipulation. Of the 34 required, 28 states have adopted balanced-budget resolutions, according to The New York Times.

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In 2013, Kapenga wrote a letter to the Assembly Committee on Campaigns & Elections in support of similar legislation, Assembly Joint Resolution 81.

“Both Republican and Democrat administrations are responsible for our debt crisis, and for the first time in our nation’s history our children will need to pay for the irresponsible behavior of their parents,” Kapenga said in the 2013 letter.

Opponents expressed concern about a constitutional convention because of a lack of control over what changes legislators could make to the Constitution.

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A number of organizations, including Common Cause and the Brennan Center for Justice, said in a statement in 2015 they opposed the convention because it would “put the constitutional rights and protections of all Americans at great risk.”

If the states were to gather the necessary support, this would be the first time in history Congress would hold this type of Constitutional amendment convention.