Average American citizens have been calling for several years for term limits for Senators and Representatives. I am one of them. I believe the time has come to investigate the pros and cons of limiting the time people spend in the U.S. Congress.
When the Constitution was written and ratified, there were no professional politicians. Men would go to Washington, D.C. to serve their country for a few years, and then they went home to their families and their professions. I feel certain that none of them thought anyone would want to be a politician for life!
President George Washington declined to serve a third term, stating that any two terms of four years should be enough for any president. This became the unwritten rule for presidents until 1940 when Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to a third term and then a fourth term in 1944. FDR died before completing his fourth term. He was the first and only president to serve more than two terms.
In 1947 Congress passed a new Amendment to the Constitution to limit presidential terms. The Twenty-Second Amendment was passed by Congress on March 21, 1947, and ratified by the states on February 27, 1951. It states: “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.”
Fast forward more than 60 years and we have professional Senators and Representatives who serve in Congress for thirty or forty or even more years. They say and do the things that they need to say and do in order to get re-elected. They are no longer serving the people; they serve to gain more power. Somehow, those we elect to Congress become millionaires. It seems that the longer they serve, the more power they have and the more corruption sets in.
We the people of the United States spoke loudly and clearly in the 2016 election when we elected Donald Trump, an outsider, to be our next President. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) believes that we said that the federal government needs to be fixed. He voiced his support for 12-year term limits for both Senators and Representatives because he does not like the way politicians dilute the right to vote because of the power they gain with experience. He believes that we need a constitutional amendment to limit congressional term limits to twelve years – two terms for Senators and three terms for Representatives.
Senator Lee stated, “Congress is the people’s branch” and needs to be “responsible and accountable.” He said “The American people are frustrated with a government that knows no boundaries. The American people … know that in many respects they are no longer in charge of their own government. That the government that was created to serve them has tried to untether itself from them, moving away from them and becoming a task-master rather than a servant…. This is a problem because it results in all kinds of lawmaking made by all kinds of government officials who are never subject to elections and therefore have no reason to fear when the people get concerned about new laws."
I hate the thought of losing strong conservatives like Senator Lee from Congress, but I believe an amendment to the Constitution to limit the terms of service in Congress is the only way we can “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. Men and women like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Orin Hatch, Mitch McConnell apparently do not know when to call it quits. They just keep running for office and getting elected because of the power they have.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla) announced that they will introduce a constitutional amendment next month to limit Senators to two terms in office and Representatives to three terms. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that an amendment limiting office terms would not be on the Senate agenda. He obviously likes the power of his office and does not want to be forced out of the Senate.
I believe that members of Congress, such as McConnell, will have to act on an amendment, or they will be forced to do so by a Constitutional Convention. American citizens are tired of the way elected leaders have gone to Washington, D.C., and failed to make life better for ordinary citizens. I believe that sooner or later we will see an amendment to the Constitution to limit the terms of office for both Senators and Representatives.