by Fergus Hodgson
Director of Fiscal Policy Studies
Yesterday, Arizona Representative David Schweikert introduced the National Debt Relief Amendment for consideration by the U.S. Congress. The NDRA, if recommended by two-thirds of each chamber and ratified by three-quarters of the states, would take away federal authority to increase the debt limit without approval from a majority of the state legislatures.
The proposed amendment of just 18 words reads:
“An increase in the Federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the several States.”
The federal debt has been skyrocketing in the past few years, officially passing $15 trillion and exceeding 100 percent of the GDP of the United States. However, that is not even half of it. Including unfunded liabilities, the United States carries more than $200 trillion in debts.
The need for a simple check on federal officials seems self-evident, since they appear to be addicted to deficit spending, and I have advocated for the NDRA on numerous occasions. For more on the justification, please see my column, “A Historic Fiscal Solution, If We Overcome Convention Fears.”
RestoringFreedom.Org is the chief promoter of the NDRA, and with little confidence in Congress, their efforts have focussed on state legislatures. Although yet to utilize it, state legislatures also have authority under Article V of the U.S. Constitution to propose and ratify amendments independent of Congress.
In that vein, North Dakota and Louisiana have already passed NDRA resolutions. RestoringFreedom.Org also has prime sponsors in 21 additional states who have introduced the resolution or intend introduction as soon as practicable.
North Dakota State Senator Curtis Olafson, who has led the state initiative and serves as National Spokesman for RestoringFreedom.Org, says:
“With committed prime sponsors of the National Debt Relief Amendment in 21 states, Congress has been prodded into action… The choices for them are to either get on the train and enjoy the ride or get run over. They are wisely choosing the former. We, however, are not going to slow down our effort one bit and we are keeping the state-initiated locomotive on full throttle.”
Representative Schweikert’s office informed RestoringFreedom.Org of his decision to submit the bill in Congress just days following a “do pass” recommendation from the Arizona Senate’s “Government Reform Committee” held on January 11th. (See video of the hearing here, starting at 5:45)
“RestoringFreedom.Org welcomes the introduction of the National Debt Relief Amendment in the US House.” Olafson says. “We will continue building momentum with our state-initiated effort invoking the rights of state legislatures to propose this amendment to our Constitution. This means that the National Debt Relief Amendment will be advanced using both methods so wisely provided by our Founding Fathers in Article V.”