In an exclusive Fox News interview on Tuesday, Representative Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C, announced that he would be sponsoring a bill to introduce term limits for the House of Representatives.
House members would be limited to 6 terms and senators would be limited to 2 terms. Both would be limited to 12 years in their respective positions.
Cawthorn remarked that 12 years is sufficient time for members to achieve their goals. Targeting members with long tenures, Cawthorn commented that “If you’re not able to accomplish your goals in over a decade, I really don’t want you to represent me anyway.”
This is not a sentiment held exclusively by Representative Cawthorn. According to a 2021 survey done by McLaughlin and Associates, over 80% of Americans support term limits for the House of Representatives. Broken down, 87.2% of self-identified Republicans and 73.6% of Democrats support term limits.
Former presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama also support term limits for those in Congress, furthering the bipartisan nature of the issue.
The question then remains: why have the attempts to institute term limits in congress not passed? Cawthorn explains that special interests and blackmail are the “currency” in Washington D.C.
Representatives wield control over each other and gain more seniority through acquiring ‘dirt’ on those they wish to yield influence over. In other words, those in congress with significant standing have little to gain if such a bill is passed.
To add to the difficulty, a bill of this gravity would require an amendment to the constitution. This would require ⅔ majority in the House and Senate and be ratified by ¾ of the states.
Due to this, Cawthorn has little hope that his bill will pass. Instead, he intends to use the bill to raise popularity for the bill nationwide. Additionally, he intends to use it as an endorsement tool – only candidates who pledge future support for his bill will receive his endorsement.
Interestingly, his bill only applies to newly elected officials and not existing officials. This could lead to an interesting change in power dynamics within the House and is sure to further complicate the electoral landscape.
For now, it seems that instituting term limits is an improbable and lofty goal. However, Cawthorn is attempting to make term limits more attainable through his candidate endorsement strategy. Although his colleagues in congress remain obstacles blocking progress, it should be a bipartisan hope that he is successful in his endeavor.