Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, asked the Daughters of the American Revolution Friday to lobby hard for the two more states needed to call a constitutional convention for a balanced budget amendment.
He also attacked right-wing and labor groups for spreading what he says is false information that a "runaway" convention could drastically rewrite the Constitution against the will of the people - fears that had the DAR oppose a convention in recent years.Hatch noted that Congress came close to passing his resolutions for a balanced budget amendment in 1982 and 1986 when it appeared that if it didn't, the states would call a convention to draft the amendment instead.
"Thirty-two states of the necessary 34 have already petitioned Congress for such a convention. We need a 33rd state to act, and perhaps even a 34th, or else Congress will not budge," he told the DAR.
The same situation existed, he said, when Congress refused to submit to the states an amendment allowing direct election of senators. But when just one more state was needed for a convention, Congress quickly adopted its own amendment and sent it for ratification.
He attacked people such as right-wing leader Phyllis Schlafly and what Hatch said is the pro-labor Citizens to Protect the Constitution for spreading false information about a runaway convention possibility.
He said it is impossible for such a convention to make drastic changes without consent of the people. "Anything proposed by the convention would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. That isn't just a check or balance, it's a major roadblock."
Also, he said Congress could refuse to submit to the states any amendment drafted by a convention that went beyond the purpose for which it was called.
"If you think for one minute that Congress would submit a radical rewriting of the Constitution to the states, you had better think again. This senator would filibuster until hell froze over - and then I'd filibuster on the ice," Hatch said.
The DAR in recent years had called for states to rescind their calls for a convention, fearing a runaway. Hatch asked it to change that, and push states to action in hopes it will push Congress to act without the need of a convention.
"But if a convention is necessary, I'm for it. You should be too," he said.