Senate rejects term limits in 24-75 vote

The Senate soundly rejected an amendment Thursday from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) supporting term limits on members of Congress.

DeMint's amendment would have expressed the non-binding sense of the Senate that the Constitution ought to be amended to place limits on how long members of Congress can serve. It was soundly rejected in a 24-75 vote.

"We must reassure Americans that we're here to serve them and not ourselves," DeMint said prior to the vote. "Congressmen and senators have lots of power… and unfortunately, we've seen that that power over a period of time creates more opportunity and temptation for us to benefit ourselves rather than our constituents. 

"All of the cases of corruption and bribery that I've seen, unfortunately, come from more senior members," continued DeMint. "No offense to my senior members, please. But this is just one of many reasons why we should have term limits in Congress."

Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) struck a populist tone in arguing that it ought to be left to voters, not lawmakers, to decide how long each member serves.  

"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," said Durbin, who is serving his third six-year term in the Senate. "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."

The term-limit plan was offered as an amendment to the STOCK Act, legislation that would prohibit members of Congress from making financial moves based on non-public information that they obtain in the course of their work.

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