On Thursday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Representative Francis Rooney (R-FL) introduced a joint resolution to amend the Constitution of the United States. The proposed amendment would place term limits on elected officials in the Senate and House.
The text of S.J.Res.1 reads:
SECTION 1. No person who has served three terms as a Representative shall be eligible for election to the House of Representatives. For purposes of this section, the election of a person to fill a vacancy in the House of Representatives shall be included as one term in determining the number of terms that such person has served as a Representative if the person fills the vacancy for more than one year.
SECTION 2. No person who has served two terms as a Senator shall be eligible for election or appointment to the Senate. For purposes of this section, the election or appointment of a person to fill a vacancy in the Senate shall be included as one term in determining the number of terms that such person has served as a Senator if the person fills the vacancy for more than three years.
SECTION 3. No term beginning before the date of the ratification of this article shall be taken into account in determining eligibility for election or appointment under this article.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), was introduced and “read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary,” according to the official website for the United States Congress.
In a press release, Cruz stated:
For too long, members of Congress have abused their power and ignored the will of the American people. Term limits on members of Congress offer a solution to the brokenness we see in Washington, D.C. It is long past time for Congress to hold itself accountable. I urge my colleagues to submit this constitutional amendment to the states for speedy ratification.
This isn’t the first time Cruz has proposed term limits. In January 2017, the senator introduced a joint resolution identical to the one he proposed on Thursday, and it was referred to Judiciary Committee.
At the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Cruz said the following about term limits:
This election was the American people saying, “Enough already with the corruption in Washington.” It’s both parties. It’s Democrats and Republicans who have been here too long, who have become captured by this city … what’s amazing is the support for this, it cuts across, in this polarized time, you get supermajorities of Republicans, of Democrats, of independents, who all say, “Throw the bums out,” and we ought to listen.
Cruz later added that he wants the American people to “hold us accountable.”
The idea of term limits isn’t a new one, nor is it one about which everyone agrees. There are those who believe that elections serve as a type of term limit, and that if the American people are no longer satisfied with a particular politician, they can and will vote them out.
Perhaps the most recent example of vote-based term limiting is the defeat of former Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in the 2018 midterm elections.
McCaskill took on Republican incumbent James Talent in the 2006 midterm election, and won. In 2012, she routed Republican challenger Todd Akin. After serving two terms in the United States Senate, McCaskill lost her seat to Republican Josh Hawley by more than five percentage points.
That said, term limits have been applied in the past. In 1947 — approximately two and a half years after Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected for a fourth term — Congress introduced what would later become the 22nd Amendment, which places a two-term limit on presidents. The Amendment was ratified in February 1951.
The idea of term limits is also popular among the American people. In 2013, a Gallup survey showed that 75% of Americans would vote in favor of a congressional term limit law. In 2016, a Rasmussen survey showed similar results, with 74% of “likely U.S. voters” favoring term limits.
When The Daily Wire spoke with Rep. Rooney, he noted that there are numerous “tangential benefits” to a term limit amendment. He also stated that the advantages of the incumbent, including but not limited to name recognition, can sometimes make it difficult to use voting as an effective means of limiting the time an elected official spends in office:
There are a lot of advantages to the incumbency that make it more difficult. People become more skilled at building up their name ID, which is kind of like a capital asset. For a politician, name ID is like owning an oil well. It becomes harder and harder for people to lose under those circumstances.
Plus, I think [term limits] would be a predestined foreshortening of career; it would change the tenor of public service in Washington. It would mean that the special interests would limit their investment in these people, and these people would have to limit their investment in the special interests, and be looking down the road to the future. [They] wouldn’t have time to build up these long, cozy ties with their favorite lobbyist.
As for potential Democratic support for the joint resolution, Rooney stated that although former Rep. Beto O’Rourke “was the only Democrat member of the term limits caucus last time,” it’s possible that elected term limit advocates “can recruit some more support now.”
In order to pass an amendment to the Constitution, two-thirds of the House and Senate must approve, and then it must be ratified by 38 state legislatures (three-fourths of all states). If passed and ratified, it would become the 28th Amendment.