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Tom Murse

New Push For Term Limits In Congress

By January 23, 2013

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David VitterTwo members of the 113th Congress are pushing to impose constitutional term limits on members of the House and Senate, a perennial non-starter of an issue. Is this attempted cure for the so-called Potomac Fever going to end any differently?

Nah.

That certainly won't stop certain lawmakers from milking an idea that would be popular among a broad segment of the population. The Gallup polling firm found members of Congress rank near the very bottom of almost two dozen professions in honesty and ethics, coming in barely above car salesmen, so the there'd be no love lost between the citizenry and their representatives.

Term limits? Yes, please.

"Congress should not be a body of career politicians who have forgotten why they were sent to Washington in the first place," said one of the lawmakers behind the latest proposal, Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. "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."

In a written statement sent to the media, Toomey points out that he kept his promise to serve only three terms in the House of Representatives. But he did not go on to explain how, exactly, he wound up back in Washington a short time later - just like one of those career politicians he so detests.

Toomey and Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana are proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would limit members of House to three terms, or six years, in office and members of the Senate to two terms, or 12 years, in office.

"Not allowing individuals to remain in office for an eternity is an important step we need to take to restore confidence in Congress," said Sen. Vitter. "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."

The bill's cosponsors are Republican U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire; Tom Coburn of Oklahoma; Ted Cruz of Oklahoma; Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah; Rand Paul of Kentucky; and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Some of the details of their legislation - the 12-year term limit in the Senate - are remarkably similar to those of the fabled Congressional Reform Act, the subject of so many memes that get forwarded from email account to email account across the globe.

One big difference: The mythical Congressional Reform Act probably has a better shot at becoming law.

[Photo of U.S. Sen. David Vitter/U.S. Congress]

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