Term Limits for Congress, Term Paper Example

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Term Paper

According to the prestigious Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., a number of recent polls have demonstrated that the majority of American voters are in favor term limits for members of the U.S. Congress which is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. As Edward H. Crane observes, Republicans, Democrats, and independents all support term limits for members of Congress, some of whom have been serving in either the Senate or the House for many decades, with several in the House having been in office for fifty years (Crane, 1995). Also, regardless of demographics, race, ethnicity, and religious affiliations, most Americans favor term limits by a large margin as opposed to those who are against term limits. Not surprisingly, as found in a 1996 Gallup Poll, “a majority of congressional aides, corporate lobbyists, and mid-level federal bureaucrats” (Crane, 1995) are strictly against term limits, due in part because term limits would negatively affect their ability to influence a member of Congress for many decades. Thus, the suggestion that all U.S. Congress members should be limited to the amount of time they spend as senators and representatives is a very good idea and one that should be covered and discussed more often in the mass media and especially in Washington, D.C.

Although term limits for members of the U.S. Congress are not currently in action related to federal legislation, some fifteen U.S. states have imposed term limits on their congressmen and state representativess. As George F. Will points out, one hundred and eighty-six members of the House and Senate are “serving under state-imposed term limits” (1993, p. xv). This is because voters in the various states that have imposed term limits voted in favor of it which of course also affects the terms held by their representatives in state houses and congresses. As might be suspected, many members of the House and the Senate are dead against term limits. One of their basic arguments is that “limits for federal legislators can only be imposed by a constitutional amendment” (Will, 1993, p. xv), and since this approach appears to be accurate (at least according to some Washington insiders), House and Senate members who stand against term limits are not about to allow a debate on this topic to reach the floor, “let alone go to the states for ratification” (Will, 1993, p. xv). As to those U.S. states that already have term limits for their senators and representatives in Washington, the only feasible way to eliminate them would be to create a state-based constitutional amendment that would be ratified by the voters either in favor or against term limits.

Those who are in favor of imposing term limits on all members of the U.S. Congress argue that doing so would lead to several important changes. First, with term limits, members of Congress would have “less time in office to develop financially beneficial commitments to lobbyists and other special interest groups;” second, with term limits in place, the power of congressional members would be limited and candidates would be “more likely to run for the purpose of serving the people” rather than their own self-interest; third, term limits would help to reduce gridlock, thus making it easier to pass important legislation “that would make a positive difference for the nation;” fourth,  term limits would help to “eliminate the shady, profitable relationships between members of Congress and special interest groups,” thus reducing the wealth gap between candidates with little money to spend on their campaigns and those with millions in personal fortunes; and fifth, term limits would help to bring an end to the “cycle of political reward and power abuse” (Arguments for Term Limits, 2012).

Perhaps the most important reason for term limits for all members of the U.S. Congress is related to the on-going gridlock in Washington between Republicans, some of whom have been in office for more than forty years, and the Democrats. In effect, term limits would severely limit the amount of time spent on bickering and arguing back and forth and would force members to get on with the business of running the country.

References

Arguments for term limits. (2012). Retrieved from http://restartcongress.org/revolution/arguments-for-term-limits

Crane, E.H. (1995). Congressional term limits. Cato Institute. Retrieved from http://www.cato.org/publications/congressional-testimony/congressional-term-limits

Will, George F. (1993). Restoration: Congress, term limits, and the recovery of deliberative democracy. New York: The Free Press.

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