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Congressional term limits in the United States

While interning at the United States House of Representatives, I researched legislative bills for Congress.

In addition, I established a professional understanding of the research that goes into creating public policy and submitted two unique writing pieces into the Congressional Record regarding the topics of Cybersecurity and Civil Rights.

I attended several briefings and hearings hosted by think tanks, trade and advocacy associations, and congressional caucuses on a wide variety of policy issues.

Some of these issues included gun control, climate crisis, the Mueller report/impeachment of president Donald Trump, foreign relations (such as the elections of India) and notably a discussion about term limits for Congress.

On June 18, 2019, I attended a hearing hosted by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) regarding setting term limits for Congress at the U.S. Capitol. Several prominent politicians including Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) & Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) are a part of the Judiciary committee.

In addition, previous Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) provided testimony regarding term limits for Congress in the United States, based on his experiences as a politician in Washington D.C.

This article will provide greater insight into term limits and the opinions posted by different Senators. All of the statistics and information provided can be found in the video posted below.

Firstly, Cruz, Chair of the Subcommittee on the US Constitution (Judiciary Committee), began the discussion by talking about how we currently have a bipartisan problem.

“American people have lost faith in Congress and Washington. Our capital has too often become a political playground for the wealthy, and President Trump himself strongly endorsed and campaigned on passing congressional term limits,” Cruz said.

The way it should work, Cruz argued, is that the people shall be superior, while the rulers shall be the servants. Furthermore, Senator Cruz went on to talk about statistics associated with the public’s opinion on congressional term limits.

  • 82% of American support term limits for Congress.

  • 76% of Democrats support term limits.

  • 72% of Hispanics support term limits.

  • 70% of African-Americans support term limits.

“The one group that does not support term limits is career politicians in Washington. These results have been consistent year after year. Neither party wants to act on its own, and career politicians don’t want to either. Term limits would fix the corruption and brazenness of our government. Today, members do not relinquish power but come to Washington to stay. The rise of political careers in modern Washington is unfortunate and upsetting to many,” Cruz said.

Cruz’s proposed Amendment has 14 co-sponsors, who are all Republican. It comprises of the following term limits: two 6-year terms for Senators & three 2-year terms for House of Representatives. States could quickly radiate this amendment, and the only obstacle is passing it through the U.S. Congress.

Secondly, Hirono, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the U.S. Constitution (Judiciary Committee), has a different opinion than Cruz and does not believe in term limits for Congress.

According to Hirono, the most effective term limits are elections, and the most knowledgeable term limiters are the people.

“A simple fix includes more reporting and transparency across all branches of government. It is our task to make it easier for voters to trust us, and we must prove that Congress’s only interest is the public’s interest! We should not be able to profit from our public service after their term is over. Also, Congressmen should not have access to Senate floor chamber if they use it to lobby clients,” Hirono said.

“Instead of calling the free press the enemy of the people, we need to increase transparency to increase voter turnout. Term limits have served to make lobbyists more influential. The average term of Senators is approximately 10.6 yrs. Even without term limits, people aren’t staying in office forever,” Hirono said.

Thirdly, DeMint provided testimony regarding Congressional term limits in the U.S.

As an advocate for term limits, DeMint said “They have served to make lobbyists more influential. Someone who is most fit for the office ought not to ignore the Constitution, and philosophical arguments regarding term limits are too close of a call to be evaluated upon. Unlike the Founding Fathers, we do not have to bring our debate to theoretical abstractions, because we can reflect upon 230 years of experience.”

“Too often, Congressmen/women are prioritizing the next big election over the next generation, and partisanship over statesmanship. The $22 trillion national debt appropriates specifically to facilitate members’ re-election, rather than being cut down upon. We must support term limits, or else there will continue to be a corruption of power in Washington D.C.,” DeMint said.

Finally, Sasse, member of the Subcommittee on the US Constitution, provided his own insight into Congressional Term Limits in the United States.

“The issue”, Sasse said, “is that politicians regularly over promise the people. We must tell the truth to the American citizens, and focus on the real impacts. One of their main calculus’s is to focus on short-term thinking, but we need more long-term, and passing an Amendment on term limits would provide solvency for this issue.”

There are several arguments posed for and against setting term limits for Congress. Many Senators advocate for different policies based on their own experiences in Washington D.C.

However, Congress can carefully examine important political examples from its 230 years of history, and make informed and well-educated decisions for the American people.

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