In today’s hyper-partisan world, there are very few things in which almost all Americans agree. One of the few things conservatives and progressives agree upon is Congressional term limits. According to a 2016 Rasmussen Poll, seventy-four percent of Americans favor Congressional term limits, and only thirteen percent oppose term limits. Since there is universal support, why hasn’t Congress amended the Constitution to limit the terms of Senators and Representatives? In all honesty, this may be a case of criminals running the prison.
Want to be a millionaire?
Become a member of congress. In 2013, the median net worth of a member of Congress was $1,029,505, but the average American household’s median net worth was $56,355. If you want to be real wealthy become a Senator. Senators on average have about twice the net worth of representatives. In 2012, the median net worth of representatives was $843,000, while the median net worth of senators was 2.8 million. Even though the annual salary of Congress is just 174,000 per year, it pays to be a member of Congress.
Since being a member of Congress is such a lucrative business, very few members want to leave. Unfortunately, they usually do not have to leave. Even though there is an election every two years, there is very little turn over in Congress. In 2014, incumbents had a 95 percent success rate in elections. In 2015, 79 members of Congress had been serving for over twenty years. Needless to say, it is hard to get the bums out of office.
Amend the Constitution
In 1951, the twenty-second amendment was ratified; it limits Presidents to two terms. Today, it is time to amend the Constitution, and set term limits for Congress. Senators should be limited to two terms, which would allow them to serve up to twelve years. Representatives should be limited to five terms, which would allow them to serve a maximum of ten years. Term limits make perfect sense, so the Constitution needs to be amended.
Amending the Constitution is very difficult, and involves two steps. First of all, an amendment must be proposed. The Constitution allows two different ways for amendments to be proposed, but all twenty-seven amendments have been proposed by a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate . A term limit proposal coming out of Congress is highly unlikely, because the swamp makes millionaires out of its members.
Fortunately, there is a way to drain the swamp. The Constitution allows state legislatures to call for a Constitutional Convention. Therefore, if two-thirds of state legislatures call for a Constitutional Convention, the states can propose any amendment that they deem necessary. After proposal, amendments must be ratified by three-fourths of states. Getting Congressional term limits proposed is the hard part, but it should be easy to get term limits passed by the states.
Today, Congressmen do not meet the needs of their constituents; instead they meet the needs of their big money donors, who help them get elected. It is way past time to pass term limits. The 28th Amendment to the Constitution should set term limits for Congress.