A Case for Congressional Term Limits

A few facts should be presented at the onset of this article:

  1. A person can only be elected to the office of President of the United States for two four-year terms.
  2. Members of Congress do not presently have any term limits whatsoever.
  3. Seventy-one (71) of those currently serving in Congress are 70 years old or older1, 2.
  4. Eleven (11) of those currently serving in Congress are 80 years old or older with an average length of Congressional term of over 32 years.

Why would it be better for Congress to have term limits? It is certainly possible for an older person to still be energetic and proficient. In addition, a certain amount of wisdom is commonly acquired with age. Nevertheless, when a significant number of those running a country would exceed the average life span of an American citizen within 10 years if they survive that long, it is fair to wonder if the future of our country is at the top of their agenda.

The two major political parties at the national level funnel large amounts of money into key state election campaigns to make sure that politicians whose vote can be counted on get elected to Congress and stay in Congress. As a result, Congress becomes more polarized and confrontational instead of being the great deliberative body of compromise that it should be.

With term limits, legislators serving in final terms could be less preoccupied with providing favors to large donor organizations that make huge contributions to re-election campaigns. Those members of Congress who are in their final terms would be free to do what is in the best interest of our country instead of focusing on re-election.

My proposed Congressional Term Limits Amendment to the Constitution could be structured as follows:

Amendment

Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of Senator more than twice. No person who has held the office of Senator for more than four years of a term to which some other person has been elected Senator shall be elected to the office of Senator more than once. Any person who has served in the Senate for sixteen years or more as of the date when this purposed amendment is ratified by 2/3 of the various states, and thereby becomes an Amendment to the Constitution, may not be elected to another term as Senator.

Section 2. Members of the Senate serve eight-year terms.

Section 3. No person shall be elected to the office of member of the House of Representatives more than four terms. No person who has served as Representative for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected shall be elected to the House of Representatives more than three times. Any person who has served in the House of Representatives for sixteen years or more as of the date when this proposed amendment is ratified by 2/3 of the various states, and thereby becomes an Amendment to the Constitution, may not be elected to another term as Representative again.

Section 4. Members of the House of Representatives serve four-year terms.

Section 5. Congressional elections shall be held once every four years on the same day as presidential elections.

By holding Congressional elections once every four years, members of Congress could spend more time working and less time campaigning. The additional time could be used for increased deliberation and debate regarding major legislation and other important purposes.

A four-year election cycle would also provide the citizenry with precious relief from the seemingly never ending political campaigning process that occurs now.

Since the President has term limits, it is certainly reasonable and appropriate that those in Congress have term limits also.

Congressional term limits would very likely result in Congress becoming more dynamic and responsible. With term limits, we the people could expect to have Congresses in the future that are more representative of the majority of our citizenry.


1 — List of current United States Senators by age, 1/25/15, Wikipedia, Web Site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current_members_of_ the_United_States_Senate_by_age.

2 — List of current members of the United States House of Representatives by age, 1/25/15, Wikipedia, Web Site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current _members_of_the_United_States_House_of_Representatives_by_age.