On Tuesday, Senators Rick Scott (R-FL) and Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced three amendments to the United States Constitution that would term-limit congressmen, give the president line-item veto power, and require a two-thirds majority in both chambers of Congress to raise taxes.
The term limits portion of the "Make Washington Work plan," or S.J. Res. 21, states in part:
No person who has served 6 terms as a Representative shall be eligible for election to the House of Representatives. For purposes of this section, the election of a person to fill a vacancy in the House of Representatives shall be included as 1 term in determining the number of terms that such person has served as a Representative if the person fills the vacancy for more than 1 year...
No person who has served 2 terms as a Senator shall be eligible for election or appointment to the Senate. For purposes of this section, the election or appointment of a person to fill a vacancy in the Senate shall be included as 1 term in determining the number of terms that such person has served as a Senator if the person fills the vacancy for more than 3 years.
According to the text, the proposed amendment would not count as term-limited any elected service prior to ratification.
The taxes and fees portion of the plan states in part:
Legislation imposing or authorizing a new tax or fee may only be agreed to by a House of Congress if such legislation contains no other subject and is agreed to upon an affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of the Members of such House of Congress, duly chosen and sworn...
Legislation raising any tax or fee, including any increase in a rate of tax or fee imposed on a percentage basis, any increase in an amount of a tax or fee imposed on a flat or fixed basis, or any decrease in or elimination of an exemption, waiver, credit, or deduction with respect to a tax or fee, may only be agreed to by a House of Congress if such legislation contains no other subject and is agreed to upon an affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of the Members of such House of Congress, duly chosen and sworn.
As for the line-item veto portion, the text states that under Article I, section 7 of the United States Constitution, the president "may reduce or disapprove any appropriation in any bill or joint resolution that is presented to" him.
In the 1998 case Clinton v. City of New York, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the "Line Item Veto Act" that was passed by Congress two years earlier. However, as this would be itself a constitutional amendment and not a bill from Congress, this situation would be quite different.
On Thursday, The Daily Wire spoke with Sen. Scott about the proposed amendments:
DW: What was your thought process on these proposed amendments?
SCOTT: We have term limits in Florida – eight years for the House and eight years for the Senate, and then two four-year terms for the statewide offices.
When I started the job as governor, we had a $4 billion budget deficit that year; the state had increased its debt every year for 20 years by over a billion dollars. In eight years, I paid off a third of the state debt, I think like two and a half billion dollars; I cut over ten billion dollars in taxes. We went from being in possible credit default and being downgraded to the highest credit rating in the country.
The things that I'm proposing, we already have in our state, which are working. I got a constitutional amendment on the ballot and passed my last year requiring a super-majority to raise taxes and fees; I believe I cut like 97 taxes and fees while I was governor; I had a line-item veto and I vetoed, I believe it was, about $2.5 billion.
[Sen. Scott added that when he was governor of Florida, he would go "line by line" through the budget, and veto what he considered irresponsible spending.]
DW: This is obviously the mirror for what you're now proposing in the Senate. Can you walk through each of the amendments, and explain why you think we need them on the federal level?
SCOTT: On the requirement of the super-majority to raise taxes, if you think about it, what happens is, the easiest thing in a downturn is for people to say, "Well, let's raise taxes." I grew up in a very poor family; I lived in public housing growing up; I never met my dad; my mom had a very tough time. So, $25 or $50 here or there was devastating to them – and people act like it’s just a little bit of money. There's conversation up here now about raising the gas tax. That is so regressive, and it impacts the poorest families so much. So, I think we ought to have to think long and hard about raising taxes.
As our economy grows, our tax revenues are growing. We don't have a revenue problem in this country, but we have a spending problem. So let's make it very difficult for people to raise our taxes and raise our fees.
As for term limits, our country was not set up for people to be career politicians. We brought people up for a period of their lives, they came and served, and they went home. That’s what we should have. We did in Florida, and we should be doing it up here.
The line-item veto, somebody's got to be responsible ultimately for the budget, and the only person that can do at the state level is the governor. The only person that can do it at the federal level is the president. They were elected, you know, statewide as the governor, and countrywide as the president. Give them the ability to say, "You know what? That’s not a good return on investment."
DW: Would Congress have the power to overrule any of those line-item vetoes?
SCOTT: The way it’s set up in Florida, they can do it with a two-thirds majority, so that would be the logical thing, is you give a line-item veto to the president, and then if it's a two-thirds majority, [Congress would] be able to override.
DW: Let’s talk about the potential success of this. What are you doing, or what are you going to do, in order to make this successful?
SCOTT: Here’s what I've seen in my years as governor. You’ve got to get your ideas out there, you’ve got to drum up support, and then you take advantage [the] times where things are more interesting to people, and that's what we did. I mean, I believed in the super-majority my entire time as governor, but my last year in office was a time that I thought I could get it done, and so I did it.
I look at my job up here as just chipping away every day and moving the ball down the court, and there will be a day, I don't know whether it's in six months or six years, that we can get these things accomplished.
The Daily Wire would like to thank Sen. Scott for speaking with us about his proposed amendments.