Changing the Culture

Published: February 8, 2013

By Jim Lichtman
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Another story under the media radar, but represents a continuing effort by some lawmakers to improve conditions in Washington in spite of obstacles.

On January 23, Republican Senators Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and David Vitter of Louisiana re-introduced legislation calling for term limits on members of Congress.

“Congress should not be a body of career politicians who have forgotten why they were sent to Washington in the first place,” Toomey said at a press conference. “We are here to do the people’s work, to solve the problems we face, and to leave to our children a stronger, safer, more prosperous nation.”

Senator Vitter added, “Not allowing individuals to remain in office for an eternity is an important step we need to take to restore confidence in Congress.” Call it Potomac Fever, or whatever you’d like, but the longer some folks are in Washington, the more taxpayer money they want to spend.”

This was but one suggestion put forth by former Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards when I had a discussion with him last October.

“The two parties are like two tribes constantly at war with one another,” Edwards reminded me. “Their respective purposes are to avoid compromise, reward intransigence and undermine democracy.”

One way to remove that war-like mentality is limit the term each can serve. With a known limit, lawmakers can focus on the people’s business rather than the business of politics.

The proposed legislation would create a constitutional amendment that would act to limit to three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, totaling 6 years; and two terms in the U.S. Senate totaling 12 years.

Co-sponsors of the bill include Republican Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire; Tom Coburn, Oklahoma; Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, Utah’s Mike Lee, Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul from Kentucky.

“I kept my promise to serve just three terms in the House of Representatives,” Toomey said. “…and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see this through.”

Last year the amendment was defeated 24 to 75 with 52 democrats and 23 republicans opposing.

As of this writing, I know of no democratic Senator favoring the Toomey/Vitter proposal.


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