Term Limits Needed in House & Senate


A Constitutional Convention is needed to amend the U.S. Constitution so we can limit U.S. House members to no more than six terms of two years each, and U.S. Senators to no more than two terms of six years each. Because incumbency has become a way of life in Washington, and the amount of money in politics has made it nearly impossible to defeat sitting U.S. Senators or House members, the Constitution must be amended to limit terms.

The idea of limiting terms is a good one that dates back to some of our Founding Fathers, like Thomas Jefferson, who urged the imposition of limits on the number of years Senators could serve.

Although no express limits were included in the final draft of the U.S. Constitution, our first 31 Presidents adhered to a tradition started by George Washington, who left office after eight years as Commander-in-Chief. When Franklin Roosevelt violated tradition and stayed more than 12 years, the 22nd Amendment was ratified in 1951, constraining Presidents to two elected terms of four years each, or one elected 4-year term, if more than two years were already served from the term of the previous President.

Limiting the terms of U.S. House members and U.S. Senators would however prove to be much more difficult than what was done with Presidents. The problem is Constitutional Amendments typically start with a House bill that requires a two-thirds vote, and since the careers of those who wish to remain more than 12 years would be cut short by this Amendment, Representatives would have a direct conflict of interest, and the proponents of change would be unlikely to get enough votes to even get started.

The only alternative to the ordinary Amendment process is to convene a Constitutional Convention, pursuant to Art. V of the Constitution. If the legislatures in 34 states (two-thirds) vote in favor of convening a Constitutional Convention, representatives of all 50 states would be invited, and if an Amendment was introduced, the approval of 38 states (three-fourths) would be needed to make it a part of the Constitution.

Although most scholars agree an Amendment is needed, it will never start in Congress, and must instead begin with the introduction of an identical bill in 34 state legislative bodies, calling for a Constitutional Convention, strictly limited to one simply-worded Term Limit Amendment. The Amendment would then be submitted to all 50 states, and would become law when ratified by 38 states.

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