GOP members seek constitutional amendment to impose term limits on Congress

More than 30 Republicans in the House and and Senate are already on the record this year in support of an amendment to the Constitution that would impose term limits on Congress.

Reps. Andy Barr (R-Ky.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) have each proposed their own constitutional amendments, with varying levels of support and slightly different ideas about those limits would work.

The facade of the National Constitution Center illuminated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Mark Makela/Corbis)
The facade of the National Constitution Center illuminated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Several Republicans in the House and (Mark Makela/Corbis)

Barr’s proposal, for example, would let members of the House and Senate serve for 12 years, after which they would have to take a break for one year before they can run again. His proposal has the support of 18 House Republicans.

Mulvaney’s proposal is tougher. It says that once a senator or House member serves for 12 years, that’s it — they can no longer serve in those positions ever again.

But they get even tougher from there. The amendment from Rep. Fitzpatrick is the same as Mulvaney’s but says members of the House can only serve eight years before they’re out. And Salmon’s proposal only gives House members just six years, or three terms. All of the proposals would give senators two terms, or 12 years.

Salmon’s version, which has four House cosponsors, has a companion version in the Senate from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). That Senate bill has nine cosponsors, including Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Term limits proposals have been especially difficult to pass because it requires current members of Congress to agree to limit their own stay in Congress. Each of the four constitutional amendments tries to soften the blow by saying only the terms of office served after the proposals were ratified would count.

That means someone serving for decades in the House would still get to serve a few more terms in office before they become ineligible. Fitzpatrick was the first to introduce his term limits amendment, and said that change is needed, along with others, to bring new accountability to an institution that most Americans don’t trust any longer.

“Though these reforms may not be popular with members of Congress, I know they would make the government work better for each hardworking constituent and begin to rebuild the confidence of the American people in elective government,” he said.

Fitzpatrick has also proposed legislation that would freeze the pay of members, end life-long pensions, and make members wait longer before they are allowed to lobby Congress.

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