On January 3, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) introduced a joint resolution proposing a term limit amendment to the Constitution.
The amendment would limit senators to two terms in office and representatives to three terms, meaning a senator could serve no more than twelve years, and a representative could serve no more than six years in Washington.
The same amendment was proposed in 2017, but essentially died on the table. The Daily Wire recently spoke with Senator Cruz about his most recent attempt at this amendment, why he believes it’s important, what issues it could solve, and who he believes are the impediments to getting it passed.
DW: Why did you propose the amendment?
CRUZ: Americans across the country understand that Washington is broken. There are few structural reforms that would have a more profound impact in ending the corruption in Washington than mandating term limits, and ending career politicians in Washington. I’ve introduced a constitutional amendment that would limit members of the House to three terms and limit members of the Senate to two terms. Overwhelming bipartisan majorities of Americans support this common sense reform, and I very much hope that Congress will listen and enact the will of the people.
DW: Why did the proposed amendment fail in 2017?
CRUZ: As I mentioned, there is an overwhelming bipartisan majority that supports term limits. 82% of Americans overall support term limits; 89% of Republican voters support term limits; 83% of independents support term limits; and even 76% of Democratic voters support term limits. There is one population, however, that consistently opposes term limits, and that is career politicians of both parties in Washington. That needs to change.
In Congress, there has long been resistance to term limits from those politicians who are invested in the current system. That being said, I think momentum is growing for this common sense reform, and the key to getting it brought up, voted on, and passed is growing public support from the people demanding it of their elected representatives. Once Congress passes it, the states, I believe, would readily ratify it because of the overwhelming public support. The impediments are the members of the United States Congress.
It may well be that now is a particularly opportune moment to take up this amendment. With divided government – a Republican Senate and a Democratic House – there may be an opportunity here because term limits don’t favor or disfavor either Republicans or Democrats. It simply ends the career politicians that have plagued both parties, and empowers the American people. I’m going to continue leading the fight to pass term limits until we get it done.
DW: There is a small percentage of individuals who stand against the idea of term limits. They believe that voting is a means of term limiting. What would you say to that?
CRUZ: I understand that argument. That is a very small percentage of American voters. According to the latest national poll, 82% of Americans support term limits, and 9% oppose. So, you’re talking about fewer than 10% of American voters. I supported term limits before I was elected to the Senate, but I have to say, having spent six years here, having seen firsthand what happens in the United States Congress, I now support term limits a thousand times more, and the reason is simple. The dominant instinct in Congress is risk aversion.
Whenever a major challenge facing this country comes up and we are at our Senate lunches, inevitably, to consider a major solution to a difficult problem entails risk. Doing something big and bold entails political risk, and the instinct that we see reflected over and over again is, [if] the overarching desire is to get re-elected, the answer to almost any big and bold solution is, "No, we can’t do that because that would be risky, and we might lose."
Term limits would enable elected representatives to address and tackle the big, meaningful challenges facing this country, and without the constant dependence on special interests and lobbyists funding perpetual re-election campaigns. The Framers of our Constitution envisioned citizen legislators; men and women who would come and spend a time serving in Congress, engaged in public service, but would then pack up their things and go back home and return to an honest living instead. That’s the vision, I think, America would be far better if we could get back to.
DW: If your proposal fails, will you try again in the exact same manner, or will you try a different route?
CRUZ: I certainly intend to continue pushing for term limits until we pass it. In terms of the specific details of the amendment, I am more than open to reasonable compromise. Indeed, I met with a senator today who was discussing different possible contours of the term limits amendment, and if it would procure the votes we need to pass it in Congress and get it adopted in the Constitution, I would be more than willing to make reasonable alterations.
One of the concessions to political pragmatism that this amendment makes is that the clock doesn’t start until the amendment is adopted and ratified. I would far prefer that it kick in instantaneously, meaning that those who have been here longer than three terms in the House or two terms in the Senate would be immediately term-limited, but as a concession to the realities of getting the votes, the amendment excludes prior service because it is difficult to ask members of Congress to vote for a provision that would [almost] immediately remove them from office. That being said, the clock would start the instant it was ratified. Within the decade, we would see the end of career politicians.
DW: Is there anything you would like to say that hasn’t been covered by the media?
CRUZ: The 22nd amendment was adopted by the American people to put term limits on the president, and it was adopted following World War II, following FDR serving four consecutive terms. The American people made a judgment that two terms was enough for a president. I think that was a good decision; I think that has proven beneficial for America – even though, if we hadn’t had the 22nd amendment, Republicans might well have wanted Ronald Reagan to serve a third term, and Democrats might well have wanted Bill Clinton or Barack Obama to serve a third term. But the process of term limits for the president has, I think, proven a resounding success for the country in terms of bringing in new and fresh leadership. The same principles should apply to the United States Congress.
The Daily Wire would like to thank Sen. Ted Cruz for speaking with us about his proposed term limit amendment to the Constitution.
If passed by lawmakers and ratified by the legislatures of 38 states, Cruz’s resolution would be the 28th amendment to the United States Constitution. To read the text of the proposed amendment, click here.