In-Depth: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reintroduced this constitutional amendment from the 115th Congress to limit Senators to two six-year terms and Representatives to three two-year terms:
"For too long, members of Congress have abused their power and ignored the will of the American people,” Sen. Cruz said. “Term limits on members of Congress offer a solution to the brokenness we see in Washington, D.C. It is long past time for Congress to hold itself accountable. I urge my colleagues to submit this constitutional amendment to the states for speedy ratification.”
Original cosponsor Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) added that this proposal is overwhelmingly supported by the public:
"The American people support term limits by an overwhelming margin. I believe that as lawmakers, we should follow the example of our founding fathers, Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who refused to consider public service as a career. Our history is replete with examples of leaders who served their country for a time and returned to private life, or who went on to serve in a different way.”
When he proposed this in the 115th Congress, Sen. Cruz said:
"D.C. is broken. The American people resoundingly agreed on Election Day, and President-elect Donald Trump has committed to putting government back to work for the American people. It is well put an end to the cronyism and deceit that has transformed Washington into a graveyard of good intentions. The time is now for Congress, with the overwhelming support of the American people, to submit this constitutional amendment to the states for speedy ratification. With control of a decisive majority of the states, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, we have a responsibility to answer the voters' call-to-action. We must deliver."
The Brookings Institute's Casey Burgat opposes imposing congressional term limits, arguing that they'd: 1) take power away from voters; 2) severely decrease congressional capacity; 3) limit incentives for gaining policy expertise; 4) automatically kick out effective lawmakers; and 5) do little to minimize corruptive behavior or slow the revolving door.
This constitutional amendment has the support of seven cosponsors in the 116th Congress, all of whom are Republicans. In the previous session, it had the support of eight cosponsors, all of whom were Republicans.
Of Note: The debate over term limits is one of the oldest in U.S. politics — in fact, it even predates America’s Constitution. In the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, members of the state assembly were limited to serving “four years in seven.”
Term limits for members of Congress most recently became a significant issue in 1994 when 22 states had term limits for their congressional delegations. The U.S. Supreme Court then struck down state-imposed term limits that are stricter than what’s found in the Constitution in the case U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton. This issue resurfaced in 2012 when the Senate rejected a non-binding resolution suggesting that the Constitution should be amended to put in place term limits in a 24-75 vote.