Debate over term limits returns to Congress

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 2:00 PM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - There is a renewed effort in Congress to limit the amount of time lawmakers can serve. The effort is coming from Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.).

“The Founders didn’t intend for people to come up and live on government for as long as they have got,” said Norman.

Norman wants he and his colleagues to be fired after serving a certain amount of time on Capitol Hill. His resolution introduced in early January says if a lawmaker has served three terms in the House or two terms in the Senate, they cannot seek reelection.

“The direction of this country would be far better off if you have fresh faces,” said Norman.

Norman was one of roughly 20 Republicans who held out on electing Kevin McCarthy Speaker of the House, hoping to get concessions for the upcoming Congress. Norman says debating term limits was one of those priorities for him.

“It may go down. It may fail. But at least let us vote on it,” said Norman.

The argument from those opposed to instituting a cap is the fact that term limits already exist. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) says every two years her term is up, and it’s up to voters to decide whether she gets another.

“The most important thing is people being able to express their voices and to vote,” said Beatty.

Beatty is in favor of accountability for lawmakers, which means long careers are a result of good work on Capitol Hill.

Mark Rom, a political expert from Georgetown University says it is not likely term limits will pass in this divided Congress. He notes longevity has benefits on Capitol Hill, like fostering long-lasting relationships and understanding the rules. Rom also adds if a lawmaker is popular in a district, removing them takes away a preferred choice from voters.

“As a voter I might want to reelect my member of Congress or member of the Senate. Term limits takes that option away from me,” said Rom.

Norman’s resolution has 58 cosponsors and one Democrat. It is unclear when it will come up for a vote on the House floor.