Term Limits For Congress. Can it be done?

by pawpaw

We've all heard people say they are for term limits, for members of Congress. But can it really be done? Let's take a look at what it would take, and if we can actually do it.

Here I will talk a little about what it takes to actually limit the terms for members of Congress, and I will give my opinion on whether I think it can be done, or will be done. Last I checked, Congress had a 15% approval rating. Oh yeah, that is the approval rating of their bosses.....we the people.
In the real world, how many of us do you think would keep our jobs, if only 15% of our bosses approved of our performance? I'm pretty sure we would be fired.

How Long Are Congressional Terms Now?

Currently, Senators are elected for 6 year terms.

The members of the House of Representatives are elected for 2 year terms.

When the founding fathers were creating the constitution, I don't think they anticipated that anyone would want a job like that for decades.

How is it possible to have term limits?

The terms for Congress, are written into the Constitution, and our Constitution is the rule book for our country. In order for us to do it any differently than is written in the Constitution, we would have to amend the Constitution.
The Constitution has 27 amendments, so it can, and has been done in the past. The 27th amendment was ratified in 1992.

Quick Reader Poll. Should There Be Term Limits?

What do you think?

The Constitutional Amendment Process

What it takes to change the constitution.

The authority to change the Constitution, is actually written into the Constitution, in Article Five. Contained in Article Five, are two ways to go about changing, or amending the Constitution.

Method #1. The first way, allows the Congress, "whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary" to propose amendments to the Constitution. After two thirds of both houses have proposed an amendment, they send it to the legislatures of all 50 states. If three fourths of the states (38 of 50) ratify the proposed amendment, then it officially becomes part of the constitution.

Method #2.  The second way to amend the Constitution, is by constitutional convention. According to my handy pocket constitution, if two thirds of the state legislatures call for a convention to propose amendments, it is also a valid way to amend the Constitution. 

It is important to note however, that of all of the 27 amendments, none have been from method two.

If you care to read it, the National Archives has a more detailed description of the amendment process.


Do you think it will be done? Will we ever impose term limits on Congress, with a Constitutional amendment?

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No, it will never happen.
pawpaw on 03/02/2013

In my humble opinion, the chance that it will ever happen in my lifetime, is pretty slim. Can you see two thirds of Congress agreeing on anything, let alone limiting their own terms? I can't see it.
And for a constitutional convention being called by the states....again, highly unlikely. Never been done before, and again, you would have to have two thirds of the states call for it. Then if either happened, it would then have to be ratified by three fourths of the states. On this subject, I see the glass as half empty.

What I Think.

I think many of our members of congress go to Washington, with the intent of doing what is right for their country, or at least what is right in their opinion.

Once they get there something happens to them. They get a little taste of power, and then they want to stay forever. Since they need money and votes, to get reelected, every decision they make, is made with getting reelected in mind. Since they need money to get reelected, they are heavily influenced by the people who can provide them with that money.

In my opinion, it isn't the length of time they stay in their jobs, that is the problem, it is the fact that they have to run for reelection so often. 

What would I do? If I could come up with a plan, I would propose longer terms, with only one term being the limit. For the Senate, I think one 8 year term, would be enough, and for the House of Representatives, I think one 6 year term would be enough. If we did that, then none of them would feel any real pressure from the big money lobbyists, or even from their constituents back home.

Got any ideas of your own? I would like to hear them in the comments section.

Actual First Page of The Constitution

United States Constitution, page one
United States Constitution, page one

Term Limit Petitions

List of Term Limit Petitions

Term limits can really get people fired up, when the subject come up. Many people like to start petitions when they are upset about an issue. Here are just a couple places where you can sign Term Limit Petitions. 

Official U.S. Taxpayer Petition to the State Legislature.

U.S. TermLimits.org

Want to start your own petition? You can do so on the White House's petition website.

Updated: 03/26/2013, pawpaw
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pawpaw on 05/12/2015

Exactly. I agree with you 100%. It should be a priority with people of both parties, but it doesn't seem to matter to most people.

CruiseReady on 05/11/2015

My husband and I often mention the need for congressional term limits in our political discussions. Unfortunately, I don't think we will see them in our lifetimes, though. We sure need to get back to the original idea of 'citizen legislators' and away from the professional politician who sees his job as getting re-elected..

dustytoes on 03/04/2013

There should definitely be term limits in Congress. You make good points here.

wrapitup4me on 03/03/2013

I agree that something happens to people when they are elected to public office. They get blinded by their new power. How unfortunate. Great article.

thehigherstandard on 03/03/2013

Great article.

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