Last week, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) introduced legislation to create term limits, becoming the latest Member to rally for a regulation that is popular with constituents but has little chance of passing Congress — or even getting to the floor.
[IMGCAP(1)]DeMint’s bill would limit Members to serving three terms in the House and two in the Senate. Similar legislation has emerged consistently since 1995, when a constitutional amendment on term limits became the only legislation from the GOP’s 1994 “Contract With America— that failed to pass the House.
In 2007, for example, then-Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) introduced resolutions; Goode’s bill limited Members to 12 years in office, while Price’s bill set a limit of 18 years. Neither of the bills made it to a committee markup.
But Members have trouble keeping to their own ideals. Goode went on to run in the 2008 elections, despite hitting the 12-year mark. Though DeMint crafted a bill that parallels his own history — he served in the House for three terms and was elected to the Senate in 2004 — co-sponsor Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) is in her fourth term in the Senate.
Similarly, proponents of term limits have reneged in the past on their pledges to leave office. GOP Reps. Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Zach Wamp (Tenn.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Timothy Johnson (Ill.) all pledged to leave after the 2004 elections, only to run again in 2006.
DeMint’s not making the same mistake. A self-imposed term limit, he says, is “a recipe for self-defeat on this issue.—
“We must have term limits for all or term limits will never succeed,— he said in a statement. “Only when we apply the same rules to all will we be able to enact vital bipartisan reforms.—
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