Tales from the Trail

Republican senators call for ending era of ‘permanent politicians’

November 10, 2009

Don’t expect the U.S. Congress — packed with old men and women who have been in office for decades — to embrace a proposal to term limit themselves.

Republican senators Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Sam Brownback offered such a measure on Tuesday, saying it would be good to get fresh blood on Capitol Hill. USA/

“Americans know real change in Washington will never happen until we end the era of permanent politicians,” DeMint said.

“Over the last 20 years, Washington politicians have been re-elected about 90 percent of the time because the system is heavily tilted in favor of incumbents.”

Coburn says the best way to ensure a  government of the people “is to replace the career politicians in Washington with citizen legislators who care more about the next generation than their next election.”

The four Republican senators proposed a constitutional amendment that would limit members of the House of Representatives to three, two-year terms — and members of the Senate to two, six-year terms. Easier said than done.

Previous efforts, dating back to the birth of the nation, have come up short and this one will likely fail as well.

Those in power like to remain in power, and they don’t like to tinker with the U.S. Constitution. They also argue that Americans should be free to vote for whom they want.

Calls for congressional term limits have a history.

Republicans won control of the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years in 1994, promising congressional term limits. But once in power they failed to deliver.

A subsequent Supreme Court ruling struck down congressional term limits as unconstitutional. So backers of the proposed amendment want to change the Constitution.

To become law, the proposed amendment would have to clear a high bar in what has become an increasingly divided Congress. A two-thirds majority vote would be needed by both the House and Senate, and then the measure would have to be approved by three-fourths of the 50 states.

Interestingly enough, DeMint and Coburn, who often complain about the old ways of Congress, are in their first terms.

Hutchison and Brownback are in their fourth and third terms, respectively, and they don’t plan to run for re-election. They would like to remain on the public payroll, however. They intend to run for governor of their states.

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (DeMint speaks alongside other lawmakers in February)

Comments
12 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Members of congress limiting their own terms? I’ll believe it when I see it. They love their money and position too much. Not to mention that they would actually have to live according to laws they pass without having the ability to change them.

I don’t think they have the stones to do it.

 

This is it! At last the notion of moving away from the determination of policy based on Sovereignty may be considered seriously. At last there is a possibility the notion of community based policy derivation being split from the Kings self-interested household will come to pass in my own lifetime.

Posted by Mark Julian Smith | Report as abusive
 

There is more chance that there could be an end to the two term limits of the presidency.We have seen several changes to this sort of protocol already this year,and the seizure of power by hugo must have set the minds of some of our democrats into overdrive.The law change in the ted kennedy seat then the change back,and the extended term of the newly elected mayor of new york,who in spite of going from being a life time democrat was prepared to skip between all the parties to suit his personal ambitions.So do not disregard this suggestion as far fetched with socialism if there is a battle between principals and power the latter always takes precedence.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

There’s only one way to get rid of a politician…and it ain’t by voting. When has voting ever resulted in real change?

Posted by Mufaso | Report as abusive
 

An amendment to repeal the 22nd Amendment (presidential term limits) has been made 27 times since 1989. Most recently by NY Dem Jose Serrano, but also by Barney Frank and Harry Reid at various times. 80% of the attempts have been made by Democrats. Two of the attempts replaced the two 4 yr terms with one 6 yr term. One was for true term limits for president, Rep\’s, Senators and Supreme Court Justices.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive
 

Do you really think that term limits are any answer to any real problem in government!??? I think too many people are only concerned with short term interests – how does it affect ME now, how does it affect MY wallet NOW, etc. Some issues take a long time to resolve – we’re still struggling with the health care issue. Would term limited representatives with short term interests at heart really be able to solve these kinds of problems?

If you don’t like a politician, don’t vote for them. But if the majority still elects them, then that’s Democracy, folks. Democracy. If you don’t like it – move to Iran!

Posted by Robert Smith | Report as abusive
 

Lets hope their will be limits, greatest thing to happen since there were no extortionists,bullies,greedy– I mean limits. Lets hope the realization of voting for a change meaning any will do –will smarten up the public, where we actually believe we are worth it and they are just elected and public servants. Wake up or continue to believe what you want, the brainwashing tactics worked this time.

Posted by sally | Report as abusive
 

Why don’t they do away with gerrymandered districts? That will solve the term limits problem.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive
 

I am certainly for term limits on congress. But with the general ignorance of the American voter and the corrupt 2 party/political system, I doubt the situation would change for the better. I’d be afraid to hear the results if you could ask EVERY American what their idea of the governments’ role in their lives should truly be.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive
 

I think the solution is :
after 3,4 terms, they have to take 1 term off. Then they can run again. This will give us a chance to determine who fits the job best.

Posted by kaveh | Report as abusive
 

dear sirs,

just read your article regarding place in west virginia where people can send money to reduce the national debt. shame on you for publishing such a worthless, counter productive article without a warning that their hard earned monies would be wasted. sending gifts of money for such a purpose will only encourage the congressmen to spend more on their pork barrel projects, largess to friends, kin and business allies. you should attempt to educate such people that the are better off burning their excess greenbacks during cold weather when at least some good becomes of it, namely a few BTUs.

please, i suggest you print a retraction.

faithfully,
dan

Posted by dan alan | Report as abusive
 

Mufaso,
Brilliant, one sentence and you’re right on the money.

Robert Smith,
Our gov’t is very similar to Iran’s. Our country isn’t really democratic, it’s mostly run by corporate elites who are born into their position mostly and by the federal reserve which is elected by no one. In Iran they have elections but their country is mostly run by the shah and his inner circle.

Term limits would be a nice start in trying to find a way to limit the power of gov’t. I think this is just posturing though, these particular politicians know this has zero chance of passing so they make it sound like it’s what they really want.

I put my trust in a man who voluntarily returns a large chunk of his pay to the US treasury every year, and does so everytime without anyone needing to ask him, Dr. Ron Paul.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/