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senate Bill S. Joint Res. 2

Amending the Constitution to Impose Term Limits On Congress

Argument in favor

A regular rotation of elected representatives is vital for the long-term health of a functioning republic. Legislators that pass federal laws should be willing to live under those laws as a private citizen back home.

BakoKristy's Opinion
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01/18/2017
And while you're at it, do away with continuing their lifetime salaries & lifetime gold standard health insurance plan. After all, they usually go off & work for major corporations & make millions by lobbying their former Congressional colleagues.
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Leo's Opinion
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01/18/2017
Congressional membership should be viewed as a civil duty not a lifelong career.
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Antje's Opinion
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01/18/2017
Yes, term limits for both houses. And when they leave, discontinue taxpayer-sponsored health insurance. No pension.
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Argument opposed

Term limits make Congress less effective and if a member of Congress can get re-elected again and again, then they should be able to keep their seats. If people don't like it, then they should vote differently.

DavisTrev's Opinion
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01/18/2017
Surprisingly I find myself on this side of this suggested amendment. I am a strong supporter of ethics, honesty, and transparency and oppose entrenched corruption in Washington - which is why a Nay is strange at first, but upon further reflection term limits are not necessarily going to help, and may makes things worse. I do believe in term limits, but they should be longer, not shorter than for the presidency. I fear that in the current Washington environment, short term limits would increase dependency on campaign contributions - increasing, not decreasing, the devastating effect of money in politics by 501c and corporate donations. Curtailing lobbying and campaign contributions is necessary before term limitations would have the desired effect of increasing accountability of legislators to the constituents. Additionally too short term limits could be devastating in itself, experience in Washington is important.
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Sacoh's Opinion
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01/18/2017
Eliminating gerrymandering solves the root of the problem.
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Frank's Opinion
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01/18/2017
I oppose term limits for one simple reason: they deny Voters the choice of representation. We wouldn't think about tell a brain Surgeon, "You have saved too many Lives. You have to retire"; why would We do so for equally important public Servants? Even this were not true, studies show countries with term limits go to war more often than those without because Legislators have no need to satisfy Voters during Their last terms. Likewise, Voter dissatisfaction is higher for People with "Lame Duck" Representatives for the same reason. Additionally, term limits make Lobbyists the only institutionalized memory in the capital, amplifying Their influence at the expense of Voters. Lastly, a mechanism already exists to remove "bad" Legislators and keep in good Ones: elections. Studies show ineffective and/or greedy Legislators are almost always removed within 3 elections or less, IF They ever get elected in the first place. Term limits are unnecessary and harmful to the idea of good governance and should be rejected.
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joint resolution Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2017

What is Senate Bill S. Joint Res. 2?

This resolution would propose an amendment to the Constitution to impose term limits on Congress. Representatives would be limited to three terms — six years — and any partial term to fill a vacancy that lasts more than one year would count against the limit. Senators would be limited to two terms — twelve years — and any partial term to fill a vacancy that lasts more than three years would count against the limit. The term limits wouldn’t apply retroactively, so sitting members of Congress would start with a fresh slate after the amendment is enacted.

As a joint resolution that proposes a constitutional amendment, the president’s signature wouldn’t be required for this to be enacted. Rather, at least three-fourths of the states — currently 38 — must ratify the amendment for it to take effect.

Impact

U.S. taxpayers; potential candidates for congressional elections; state legislatures; incumbent members of Congress.

Cost of Senate Bill S. Joint Res. 2

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) proposed this constitutional amendment imposing term limits on Congress:

"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."

This legislation has the support of eight cosponsors in the Senate, all of whom are 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.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Library of Congress / Public Domain)

Official Title

A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to limiting the number of terms that a Member of Congress may serve.

    And while you're at it, do away with continuing their lifetime salaries & lifetime gold standard health insurance plan. After all, they usually go off & work for major corporations & make millions by lobbying their former Congressional colleagues.
    Like (920)
    Follow
    Share
    Surprisingly I find myself on this side of this suggested amendment. I am a strong supporter of ethics, honesty, and transparency and oppose entrenched corruption in Washington - which is why a Nay is strange at first, but upon further reflection term limits are not necessarily going to help, and may makes things worse. I do believe in term limits, but they should be longer, not shorter than for the presidency. I fear that in the current Washington environment, short term limits would increase dependency on campaign contributions - increasing, not decreasing, the devastating effect of money in politics by 501c and corporate donations. Curtailing lobbying and campaign contributions is necessary before term limitations would have the desired effect of increasing accountability of legislators to the constituents. Additionally too short term limits could be devastating in itself, experience in Washington is important.
    Like (323)
    Follow
    Share
    Congressional membership should be viewed as a civil duty not a lifelong career.
    Like (537)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes, term limits for both houses. And when they leave, discontinue taxpayer-sponsored health insurance. No pension.
    Like (374)
    Follow
    Share
    Eliminating gerrymandering solves the root of the problem.
    Like (306)
    Follow
    Share
    I oppose term limits for one simple reason: they deny Voters the choice of representation. We wouldn't think about tell a brain Surgeon, "You have saved too many Lives. You have to retire"; why would We do so for equally important public Servants? Even this were not true, studies show countries with term limits go to war more often than those without because Legislators have no need to satisfy Voters during Their last terms. Likewise, Voter dissatisfaction is higher for People with "Lame Duck" Representatives for the same reason. Additionally, term limits make Lobbyists the only institutionalized memory in the capital, amplifying Their influence at the expense of Voters. Lastly, a mechanism already exists to remove "bad" Legislators and keep in good Ones: elections. Studies show ineffective and/or greedy Legislators are almost always removed within 3 elections or less, IF They ever get elected in the first place. Term limits are unnecessary and harmful to the idea of good governance and should be rejected.
    Like (200)
    Follow
    Share
    Career congressmen seem to cease serving their constituents and start serving themselves after about 6-8 years in Washington.
    Like (103)
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    This is long overdue. I appreciate the hard work senior members of congress do and the respect they have earned, but overall the power of incumbency has become too much of a stranglehold on offices regardless of performance of those holding them. Please support this effort!
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    Serving in Congress should be public service - not a career. When it's a career the goal is to protect one's own interest rather than that of one's constituents. It also breeds corruption. Congress should absolutely have term limits.
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    It often takes several years just to learn how to get things done in the House or the Senate and to build up influence. If a legislator is good, it's foolish to make him or her leave. If a legislator is bad, use the ballot box as the retirement mechanism, not an arbitrary time limit.
    Like (52)
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    We need to end the career politician. The Founding Fathers saw this as a threat. The longer a person is in Congress it's less about civil service & more about consolidation of power.
    Like (47)
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    Government is complicated, and understanding how it works and how to evaluate and implement policy choices is as complex as working as any other kind of professional. We don't "term out" our doctors, lawyers, civil engineers, or others who have to master a complex body of knowledge and skills and gain extensive experience to do their jobs effectively. Term limits lead to naive and underqualified public servants who make decisions on the basis of ideology and fickle and transient public opinion instead of informed, mature consideration of the issues and the strengths and weaknesses of the institutions that implement them.
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    I think that the voters are the best term-limiters. We should not punish good leaders for gaining the support of people. Instead, term limits would make leaders continually inexperienced, leaving office as they are learning the job. It would make them more reliant on campaign contributions.
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    All would use time more wisely if they knew it was limited. They would no longer "retire on the job."
    Like (29)
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    And let's start with Mitch McConnell.
    Like (29)
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    The framers all viewed these jobs as a service to perform and then returned to their original careers. It should still be the same
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    Congress Has got to remember that they are representative of their constituents and NOT. Leaders. Our founders set up our government to discourage career politicians.
    Like (26)
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    I live in Michigan where we've had term limits for about 30 years. I can say unequivocally that they are a disaster. Legislators need time to get to know the processes of governing, to create relationships and to build an institutional memory that facilitates compromise. Now all we have are people who are constantly campaigning for their next position in government and training to become lobbyists. It's a waste of good people and generally they are replaced with much weaker ones. Term limits sound good but they actually serve cronyism and division. Our state legislature is a disaster as a result. As tempting as is sounds, to throw the bums out, or force them to get stuff done, term limits is not the answer!
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    Surprisingly, I disagree with the proposed amendment. It often takes many years to make headway (as has been evident in the past 8 years). I'd rather see citizens united overturned.
    Like (21)
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    I am strongly in favor of Congressional term limits and believe they would improve government function for several reasons, though I question what those limits should be. Some arguments for limiting terms: 1. Forces representatives to work more efficiently toward achieving goals; 2. Makes it difficult for one party to obstruct the legislative goals of the sitting President's administration, solely for the sake of obstructing same, like the GOP and Tea Party have done since the 2010 mid-term elections; 3. Less time and opportunity for backdoor wheeling and dealing and granting favors; 4. Makes it more difficult for corporate lobbyists to have an effect by means of long-term, close relationships with lawmakers. Arguments against, which make me question what an appropriate term limit would actually be, include: 1. Creates incentive for corporations to "home-grow" a continuous flow of politicians around the country willing to act in their favor, which would be difficult to monitor with such a quick, mandatory turnover, especially in light of Citizens United; 2. Change takes time and 6 years is a not a significant amount of time to effect meaningful change (e.g., the ACA, from its first proposal as a bill to the present, lawmakers need more time to identify and fix its flaws); 3. Term limits imposed on Congress, a body of lawmakers working together, should not be less than that of POTUS, one person with executive authority and veto power; 4. There is something to be said about having experience, and if such term limits are imposed, in a matter of just 6 years, Congress will collectively have very little experience running the government. I believe I would be more comfortable supporting this bill if the term limits were longer.
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