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Stenholm Seeks Amendment, 4-Year Terms

Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-Texas) said Wednesday that he is serious about putting together language for a constitutional amendment that would give House Members four-year terms.

“It is something that we are in the process of doing right now,” he said in an interview. Acknowledging that amending the Constitution is a momentous action, he pledged to “take adequate time to consider the constitutional aspects of it.”

Having participated in the House effort to pass a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, Stenholm said he is aware of the arduous nature of the task.

“It took about 12 years for the House to pass a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget,” he said. “I was standing in the back of the Senate when it went down by one vote.”

The Texas Democrat said the impetus for his proposal was the near-constant campaigning that he believes is to the detriment of legislating and the House as an institution.

“This is something I have observed for years,” he said. “What brought it about is the frustration of my own constituents and the amount of time [it takes] to raise money that needs to be spent to compete in the media-driven races. My constituents have said, ‘When are you going to go to four-year terms?’”

Stenholm first made the comments to the Abilene (Texas) Reporter-News in an interview about his plans for the 108th Congress.

He said he has already talked to potential co-sponsors and is working to draft the language. But above all, Stenholm says he wants to begin a discussion.

“I would like to see us get started. At the optimum, you are taking about six to eight years before it could be implemented. I personally think its time has come, and I want to see how many of my colleagues agree with me.”

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