House GOP bill pushes term limits

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) filed a bill on Tuesday that would amend the Constitution and impose term limits on members of Congress.

The measure would call for a maximum of 24 years of service for lawmakers, with 12 years each in both the House and Senate.

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Lawmakers in the House are up for election every two years, while senators’ terms run six years. The Constitution, however, does not limit the number of terms a person can serve. 

“Believe me, 24 years is more than enough time to serve in Washington. (I actually pushed for much shorter terms but compromised at 12+12 in order to gain the support of additional co-sponsors),” Mulvaney said in a statement on Wednesday. "And I want to thank my friends Steve Scalise (R-La.), Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) and Steve Palazzo (R-Miss.) for their work in getting this bill together."

The introduction of the bill comes after a series of polls have indicated Congress’s approval rating is at record lows. A Gallup poll in January found 13 percent of people approved of the job that Congress is doing. During the government shutdown in October, the approval rating stood at just 5 percent.

“Now the question becomes: How can we convince enough members of Congress that they are the problem?” Mulvaney added. 

In 2012, then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) proposed a similar amendment that would place limits on how long members of Congress could serve. 

The Senate overwhelmingly rejected DeMint’s measure, voting 75 to 24 against it.

At the time, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) voiced opposition to the amendment, having already served three terms himself. 

"For some members of Congress, two years in office is too long and for some members of Congress, 20 years in office is not long enough," Durbin said. "Who should make that decision? The Constitution in its wisdom says the voters of America make that decision. Let's stand by that Constitution and its language and defeat this sense of the Senate resolution."

Before the mid-1990s, nearly two-dozen states previously limited how many terms their representatives in Congress could serve. 

In 1995, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton that states could not determine the length of service their representatives at the national level could serve.