Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) have proposed amending the U.S. Constitution to impose term limits on members of Congress, one of several such resolutions filed as the 115th Congress gets to work.
Cruz’s office said the amendment would limit U.S. senators to two six-year terms and members of the House to three two-year terms. The amendment is being considered as S.J.Res.2 in the Senate and H.J.Res.6 in the House,
“D.C. is broken,” said Cruz in a release. “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 past time to put an end to the cronyism and deceit that has transformed Washington into a graveyard of good intentions.”
“Term limits are the first step towards reforming Capitol Hill,” said DeSantis. “Eliminating the political elite and infusing Washington with new blood will restore the citizen legislature that our Founding Fathers envisioned. The American people have called for increased accountability and we must deliver. Senator Cruz has been instrumental in efforts to hold Congress accountable, and I look forward to working with him to implement term limits.”
President-elect Trump in October called for term limits in his campaign pledge to “drain the swamp.” Trump’s plan at the time matches Cruz’s proposal, according to a Politico article from October. Cruz and DeSantis penned an op-ed in the Washington Post in December announcing they would introduce such an amendment. In both the op-ed and Wednesday’s release, Cruz cited an October Rasmussen survey that showed nearly three-quarters of likely U.S. voters support establishing term limits, compared to 13 percent who were opposed to term limits.
U.S. Term Limits, a nonprofit pushing for term limits, voiced support for the Cruz-DeSantis bill. USTL President Philip Blumel said in a Wednesday blog post, “President-Elect Trump, President Obama, Speaker Ryan and the American people have all said it’s time for term limits. Congress should listen by passing this resolution and sending it to the states for approval.”
Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and David Perdue (R-Ga.) are listed as cosponsors of S.J.Res.2, according the resolution's text and Cruz’s office.
The initial proposal from Cruz and DeSantis also states:
“No term beginning before the date of the ratification of this article shall be taken into account in determining eligibility for election or appointment under this article.”
This means that if the resolution was approved with no changes, current senators and representatives would not be subject to the amendment until it is ratified. Furthermore, the introduced version does not prevent a person who serves three terms in the House from subsequently running and serving two terms in the Senate.
Term limits are not new in the United States. The Articles of Confederation, the predecessor to the current U.S. Constitution, included term limits. Article V stated in part, “No state shall be represented in Congress by less than two, nor by more than seven Members; and no person shall be capable of being a delegate for more than three years in any term of six years.” Efforts to add term limits at the state level hit a wall in the 1990s after a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1995 case U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton. The ruling invalidated state-imposed term limits for prospective members of Congress that were stricter than those set out by the constitution.
Several other joint resolutions have been introduced in Congress regarding term limits for the 2017-18 session as of Jan. 4: H.J.Res.4 by Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), H.J.Res.7 by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and H.J.Res.13 by Rep. O’Rourke.
Fitzpatrick said his proposal would limit members of the House and Senate to 12 years of service total. A copy of the resolution provided to KVUE by O'Rourke's office has similar language to that of the proposal by Cruz and DeSantis.
If any resolution regarding an amendment is approved by Congress, it must also be ratified by three-quarters of the states (38 of 50 states) within a certain period of time. S.J.Res.2 stipulates the ratification must be done “within seven years after the date of its submission by the Congress.” The U.S. Constitution was last amended in 1992.