Term Limits in Congress?

From time to time, someone in Congress asks that the Constitution to be changed so that Presidents could be elected to more than two terms, thus repealing the 22nd Amendment.  This is recently exemplified by Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY) who did the very thing early in January.  He actually has good experience in calling for such a proposal.

dingell_official-thumb-200x280-43What about calling for term limits on members of Congress? As of today, nine Congressmen have been in office for over 36 years.  Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) (pictured) has been in office for over 57 years.  Two Senators have been in office for over 36 years as well.  Congressmen and Senators can serve in office for unlimited elected terms.  Congressmen serve two year terms, while Senators serve six year terms.

Fifteen state legislatures have term limits.  Thirty-six governors are limited as well.  Why not Congress? After the 1994 Republican Revolution in Congress, where the GOP won both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years, reform-minded Congressmen put term limits to a vote.  The vote was in the form of a Constitutional Amendment in 1995.  It failed.  Then three other versions of term limit legislation failed in the House.  After all, it would very difficult to pass a bill in the House, where you are asking the members themselves to support something that would put them out of work.

Some believe that term limits would bring a new face and new vision to the legislative body.  With that new vision comes new ideas.  Others say that term limits would unfairly limit the terms of those Congressmen and Senators who are doing a decent job for their constituents.  It is sort of like saying that you wouldn’t want to throw out the good with the bad.

As for Congressman Serrano?  He has been in office since 1993.

What are your thoughts on limiting the amount of terms a Congressman or Senator can serve?  How many terms would you limit them to?


35 responses to “Term Limits in Congress?

  1. I am all for limiting the terms a Senator and Congressman can serve. The statement about bringing in new faces and bringing in new ideas is something this government is in need of. Instead of using the same failed plans that the now elected officials are using, a new, outside view point may be just what we need to get our government turned back in the right direction.
    I would limit the senate terms to three; four-year terms and the congress terms to four; two-year terms I would also take away federal funding for their campaigns. There is no need for federal funds to be wasted on the re-election of someone who is bound to lose, because they all can’t win.
    Side note: limit their penitions. They want to attack the penisions of our public service workers (Police. Fire, Teachers etc.) but not restructure theirs? And give themselves a raise in a debt ceiling crisis? Gradually losing faith in our government looking out for citizens best interest.

  2. Yes, Congressmen and Senators should have limits on how many lifetime terms that they can serve plus a cap on their income. I am one of those people who believe that new faces will bring new ideas and possibly change the legislation hopefully for the better. Our President can serve only two terms which is eight years. Then a Congressman should have a limit of six terms equal to twelve years. Senators should have a limit of two terms which also is twelve years. Having a cap of twelve years is approximately the same as a generation and gives others with the guts to run a chance at a government position. I feel bad for the people who are doing well in the positions but enough is enough. Let new blood in with new ideas and out with the old who are supposed to be wiser but are they?

  3. Magdalena Kurnat

    I believe congressmen should have unlimited terms because they closely reflect constituents. Unlike the president that serves the whole united states, congressmen have a selected body that they must represent. It makes it easier for the constituents to elect a new representative then for a whole nation to elect a new president.

  4. It sounds good in theory, but how can you expect anyone to vote themselves right into the unemployment line? Not every politician wants to be a lobbyist when their ride is over. True, the people would prefer to keep those who serve their community well in office for as long as possible, but when the voting process fails to eliminate the bad ones, this becomes quite the conundrum. So what is the answer? My best suggestion is to try mandating unlimited ALTERNATING terms. A Senator, for instance, could serve 3-4 year terms and would then have to abstain for 3-4 years. After abstaining from office for 3-4 years, they may run for office again and the cycle repeats. Of course, my simplistic suggestion does not take into consideration any affect on the election process itself, but it’s a start. I’m also banking on the good ones to feel obligated to run again, while at the same time being too much of an inconvenience for the bad ones to return to office (Something a lobbyist couldn’t fix). Above all, I’m asking politicians to inconvenience themselves. Good luck. As far as presidents are concerned, term limits are a must. In my opinion, it’s another check and balance on the executive branch. Americans elect presidents, not kings.

  5. Limiting the terms of Congressmen and/or Senators highly has its pros and cons. It can bring fresh new faces and minds with a younger mindset and a stronger voice into power which can create an enormous amount of change. However, it can knock those off the block of Whom are doing well with the position they hold. I believe the pros are better than the cons. This country is scared of change due to the previous mistakes made, however Congress holds a great power and can do wondrous things for our country, I would limit Congress to 5 years. Enough time to make change yet gives some eventual change we can look forward to.

  6. I am all for putting a cap on how many terms Congress an run for. Their are many pro/cons for this debate, but in my own opinion the pros outweight the cons. Congress has had some members like Dingell who’ve been in office for five decades. Putting a cap on terms would allow fresh ideas enter the government, and would keep highly profiled Congressman from drawing in to much influence over others. If the President has a term, so should Congress.

  7. I agree that Congress and Senators should have limited terms. The President has limited terms and State Legislators have limited terms. Why would we limit one group of the government to certain terms and not the other and why is there such a discrepency in the number of years in a term? If a Congressman/woman or Senator is not doing their job correctly or with integrity or representing their constituents rightfully, then they should not still be holding that position. Even if they are doing the right thing and working for the People, we need fresh ideas and a different perspective and would also help to take away some of the crookedness in politics. I would say that their term should be 4 years and they could be re-elected for no more than 3 terms.

    Even if it is the right thing to do, Congress and Senators will not allow this to pass because it would essentially put them out of work. It seems like when anything affects their pay or vacation or benefits it is a priority, but when it comes to the American people, it doesn’t seem to have such a sense of urgency around it.

  8. Being able to reelect the same Congressman and Senators over and over again definitely has its pros and cons. In my opinion the pros would be that is the Congressman and Senators are doing a well enough job they deserve to continue on in that path. Not only that but also no one is being forced into a jobless circumstance. A con would be that new people wouldn’t get a chance to change or improve anything as a congressman and senator. This is needed so that way a new face can bring up a new idea that was never brought up. Sometimes change can be a good thing. Also eventually the people that are getting reelected for congressman and senator will need to retire without new faces being transitioned into the political atmosphere every 20 or so years the congressman and senators would need to start from scratch. Even though I don’t think someone should be punished or in this case let go when they are doing a good job, there needs to be a point in time when enough is enough and someone new gets a chance to shine.

    If I had to limit the congressman and senators I would limit the congressman to three terms four at most, and the senators at two terms (since their terms are much longer than those of a congressman). If the position doesn’t have anyone to fill it when it is necessary then other options should be considered.

  9. I don’t believe that congressmen and senators should have term limits, especially in the House of Representatives, since their term is only for two years. If the people want to start seeing new faces and ideas, they should start voting more frequently. Also, experienced members in Congress can be a positive thing.

  10. I don’t think that congressmen and senators should have a limit. I understand that it is important to have new ideas and a fresh outlook but at the cost of losing those senior congressmen and senators that have experience in what works and what doesn’t. I don’t think it is worth it. I think that If the Congressmen and Senators are reelected for their chair then they should have their seat.

  11. Congressmen and Senators should have a limit on how long they should stay in office unless they have done something great that benefit the citizens or economy or are doing a good job. I believe that time changes and you are suppose to change with it. It is nice to see somebody young coming into office with a good mind and determination. If i controlled the term being spend in office i would limit the senate to two terms and congress to four terms. I do not think anybody should stay in office more than ten years unless you are working on a project that takes more than ten years and is approved by the citizens of the state you represent.

  12. I agree that Congress should have a limit to the amount of terms they can be elected to. It will give new people the chance to give new insights. If the president has a limit, so should Congress.

  13. I’m a big believer that congress is supposed to be made up of the everyday persons. Your neighbors, your colleagues, your peers. They should be the most direct line to your regions wishes for the role of government in your life. It’s not supposed to be composed of an elite minority. I don’t believe they’re supposed to be indispensable, or that their ability to preform their function should be dependent on the amount of time they’ve spent colluding with their fellow congressmen. Ostensibly I’d be in favor of limiting their terms to a maximum of 6. But I would really need to investigate into the issue further before I give anything other than a cursory opinion on the matter.

  14. It almost makes sense to limit the terms of congressmen, but at the same time the part about “replacing the good with the bad” makes sense too. If something works well, why change it? Yet, I do think it is a little unfair that there is no limit on their terms. I would probably limit it to a maximum of six if it did have to be limited.

  15. Jeremy Witherspoon

    Congress should have term limits because a new mind can bring fresh ideas to the table in Congress. Also why do most other political jobs have term limits and need to be elected again. Times change and the people need to change also, we need Congress members that are more driven to do their jobs; if your guaranteed to keep your job until you decide to retire there will be the chance of that person not doing their job as well.
    On the other hand I know a lot of the reason that they aren’t limited terms is so theres minimal corruption because they’re guaranteed their seat, it keeps people from trying to buy off congress members and blackmailing them to lose their seat in congress.

  16. I can understand why people would like to limit the number of terms a congressman or governer can have, especially since many of the established treat it like a job and serve with their own interests (re-election) in mind. Personally, I do not see how this will impact any problems in our elective system, although it may seem to. For example, Illinois is pretty much bedrock Democrat, and no number of term limits will cause a shift since many people blindly vote a straight ticket. If anything, this will most likely encourage people to continue voting blind because getting to know who you’re voting for will become synonymous to doing homework. New minds in congress do not necessarily mean the mindset has changed, especially when considering the states dominated by either of the established political parties.

  17. I am for the limiting terms of Congressmen. I believe that each branch of government should get a new face, new beliefs and a whole new control system especially if the nation is still in some sort of trouble. I always believed that if the system we have to deal with is not improving with the people in it now, then its time to see what other people can do. Limiting the terms of Congressman and Senates will give this country plenty of opportunities of improvement. It may be that improvements will never happen for example, the economic problems we are having, but it can help in some sort of way. So all in all, i believe that this country can see new faces and new voices to see if there is any sort of help coming from the people who are willing to give there time in their set term.

  18. Matt Kaczorowski

    I do agree with most people that there should definitely be a term limit for Congress members too. Although I do support the comparison of throwing out the good with the bad, I think a term limit is in order to help prevent members from getting “too comfortable” with everything going on. I feel that new members constantly coming in might make things a little more competitive and it might create a push to get things done and done right. Sometimes you have to do some radical things to make some big changes in government.

  19. I think that having a a limit on congressmen and senators would not be a terribly bad idea. If they have two terms of 6 years each that would be plenty of time for them to get their ideas in order and benefit the country. This way congress members will not be in office for 50 some odd years just sitting there, but putting their best foot forward and coming up with new ideas. This will bring in new ambitious people as well with fresh ideas.

  20. Term limit for Congress is a fascinating debate. Overwhelmingly, voters like term limits. I believe that term limiting in congress will benefit us in many ways. For starters, it will downgrade seniority and favor meritocracy, as well as increasing competition and encourages new challengers. More importantly, i believe it will build a ‘citizen’ Congress and drive out all the career politicians, like, John Dingell, who has been in office for almost 60 years, making an upwards of $200,000 annually. I believe that it is time for some new faces in Congress.

  21. Kostantina Taseva

    I claim that, that debate is really important and depends on many reasons, but my opinion is that there must be a two- term limit for Congress members. First, because the unlimited period of some, leaves others without any opportunities and chances to gain a career success. Second, new ideas are really important for the development of the nation. I appreciate the hard work and the experience of the old members, but creativity will bring many improvements in the country.

  22. I would support limiting the amount of terms that a congressman is able to serve because I believe that an influx of new ideas every once in a while would be beneficial to our government in helping to solve issues that include healthcare, the national debt, etc. This would also provide others with the opportunity to be elected to congress and begin their political career as opposed to the same person being elected for extended periods of time such as John Dingell. Although I can see the positives to having no limit on terms such as allowing the more successful congressmen to continue to serve in congress, the promise of new ideas and careers outweighs those positives.

  23. I believe they should be limited.First of all with the same person, just like the article mentioned, there will be no new ideas for our state. They also should be in the best intrest of the public but just like generations change so does our government officials. I woukd have to say 5 years maximun a term.

  24. Term limits come in and out of fashion in cycles directly related to the voting publics perception of their elected public servants. While the call for term limits on the Executive Branch of state government (Governors) has had success in some states, The Legislative Branch (Congress) has a vested interest in maintaining power for their members as long as possible. The reason for this is either their personal gain or maintaining power for their political party to relinquish it voluntarily through term limits. The fight to put a new member in after their prior member’s term limit forces them out can be an expensive and disruptive diversion on the normal legislative process.

  25. Term limits come in and out of fashion in cycles directly related to the voting public’s perception of their elected public servants. While the call for term limits on The Executive Branch of state government (Governors) has had success in some states, The Legislative Branch (Congress) has a vested interest in maintaining power of their members as long as possible. This is either for personal gain or maintaining power for their political party to ever relinquish it voluntarily through term limits. The fight to put a new member in after their prior members term limit forces them out can be an expensive and disruptive diversion on the normal legislative process.

  26. I do believe that congressmen and senators should have an unlimited amount of terms. If they themselves are adequate for the position and are doing a good job why put an expiration date on how long they can positively serve the people. I guess my belief on this is don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. I feel that how it is now is how it should stay unless it be in the best interest of the people to remove that congressman or senator.

  27. I have a mixed opinion on this. While getting new people would bring in new ideas for government on a national level and replace those who are not doing their jobs properly, it could possibly remove the congressmen that are already doing a good job. If term limits we given to congressmen, I believe it would be more or less the same as it was before, as far as what each congress seat holder would do. Certain areas will vote for the same party regardless of who is running so nothing much would change other than a name.

  28. There should be term limits for members of Congress. The limit should be two, four year terms. If a congressman cannot get anything done in that amount of time he does not deserve to represent the people. Also, we have these old-timers in Congress who are too close minded. We need them out. If a congressman is on a time limit, he is more likely to get more major things done in my opinion.

  29. Jazmin Gutierrrez

    I believe that as long as the congressmen and the Senators are doing a well job in their position, they should have the right to get reelected as many times. If majority of the population like their congressmen and Senators and think they are doing a great job, then there really is no point on changing them. It seems unfair for a person to do their job and get rewarded by not being able to get elected again.

  30. Cristina Calderon

    I don’t think that there should be a constitutional change that limits the amount of terms a Congressman or Senator can serve. I believe that limit already exists. First, there is a limit imposed on the number of years served per term. Once the term is up that person must be voted in again. If they keep getting voted in then the people are voting for no limit. If they do not get voted in again then that’s the vote for that person’s limit.

    I actually think that the amendment should be that a President can serve more terms than just two and the voters should limit the terms with their votes just like the Congress and Senate.

  31. I think as far as setting limitations on federal legislature there should be a set number of times a representative can hold office. Reasons for this because I believe if a person spends too much time in a seat of power they are more apt to over look things or change their views to benefit themselves instead of the persons they stand for, now this may not be true for all representatives but, I think limitations are fair. Limitations would mean more ideas and challenges from new minds creating a more adaptive government . I also think that the President should be allowed up to two more terms then the allowed two for when there are real economic or world challenges such as war it is sometimes not good to change the face of the government especially if that President is making positive changes, like FDR who was our only President to serve more then two terms and I personally believe that that is the right circumstance for a more then two term president but, if everything is stable then rotating the man in power is good for keeping a stable government.

  32. Limiting terms is a very difficult thing, but it should also be held fair for any type of congressman or senator position. The president is only able to serve two terms therefore everyone else should get the same treatment. It is not okay for somebody to be in term for over 10 years, there should be new faces and new ideas. Sticking to the same person for over two terms makes it seems like they are in a permanent position. Although it is a very hard thing to decide if somebody is doing a great job in office, but I feel like there should be concrete rules and limitations.

  33. patryk bryniarski

    I dont think the term should have a limit to it, as long they are doing a good job i dont see a point of letting them go. Picking new might be good but it isnt always good in some cases. People who been there for a long period of time and they’ ve been doing a good job should’t lose that position. They will lose the job and what will they do then? So i dont think there should be a limit to the positions.

  34. I would limit terms for congress. As the years go on they will start to over look alot of things and get lazy, but a newcomer would be on their game. There should be more rules and regulations.

  35. I thnk it’s good to have term limits in congress. Maybe not as short as a president term but maybe 5 or 6 years. It’s long enough for them to be more knowledgeable than new members but its a shirt enough term for them to not get too outdated. Having no term limit on Congress is bad because there won’t be a diversity in age if congressmen and women hang on to their positions.

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