An old approach to draining the Washington swamp has become new again as members of Congress push for congressional term limits.
Term limits were one of the items proposed in the 1994 Contract with America, developed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Although the issue was widely debated at the time, and term limits were imposed on some local and state elected positions, the bid to create term limits at the federal level never succeeded. Although some states sought to limit congressional terms, The Washington Post noted that a court rejected those efforts. Instead, imposing congressional term limits requires a constitutional amendment, which would require two-thirds passage in the bitterly divided houses of Congress and then ratification by 36 states.
However, Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin is among those willing to make the attempt, according to The Hill.
“People are hungry for a new generation of leadership in Washington, D.C. I certainly saw that in my campaign, where my youth, far from being a hindrance, was an asset,” said Gallagher, 34.
Last week, Gallagher and a bipartisan group of congressmen who support term limits recruited an ally to their cause — President Donald Trump.
“I’m holding true to my commitment to bring some Wisconsin common sense to Washington, D.C. and change the way business gets done. Imposing term limits is one of first ‘Drain the Swamp’ measures I introduced in my first 100 days in office, and I appreciated the opportunity to discuss my resolution with President Trump. If we’re going to end the careerism that is infecting Washington, D.C., then implementing term limits and getting back to the citizen legislator model is a no-brainer,” Gallagher said in a statement on his website.
Trump later tweeted his support.
“I recently had a terrific meeting with a bipartisan group of freshman lawmakers who feel very strongly in favor of Congressional term limits,” Trump tweeted. “I gave them my full support and endorsement for their efforts.”
I recently had a terrific meeting with a bipartisan group of freshman lawmakers who feel very strongly in favor of Congressional term limits. I gave them my full support and endorsement for their efforts. #DrainTheSwamp
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2018
Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania said he told Trump that there is a connection between length of service and corruption, according to the Washington Examiner.
“I made clear to the president that, as a former FBI special agent who oversaw the FBI’s Political Corruption Unit for the entire nation, I witnessed firsthand an undeniable correlation between the length of time in office and the instances of corruption,” Fitzpatrick said. “The lines that were very bright for elected officials on day one in office were not so bright in year seven or eight, and even less so in years 15 or 20.”
Joining Fitzpatrick and Gallagher were Republican Rep. Jodey Arrington of Texas and Democrats Ro Khanna of California and Vincente Gonzalez of Texas.
Arrington said Trump was receptive to the proposal.
“I think he was encouraged that the new members of Congress — who came in when he did, on the same ticket — were expressing the sentiment of the electorate around this country,” Arrington said, according to KTTU-FM. “Eighty-two percent of the American people believe that term limits would be best for this country.”
The proposal would limit service to 12 years, which would be two terms for senators and six terms for members of the House of Representatives. Sitting members of Congress would be exempt.
Gallagher said the issue crosses partisan lines
“These are issues you can talk about with hardcore Bernie Sanders progressives and hardcore conservatives, and everyone starts speaking the same language,” Gallagher said.
Khanna said term limits would increase the diversity in Washington.
“Term limits worked really well in my state in the state assembly. It’s led to more people of color, more women and more young people getting the opportunity to serve,” Khanna said. “So that really is something I believe would be good at a federal level.”
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