House GOP weighing term limits for leaders

The House GOP’s majority transition team is considering term limits for leadership jobs, according to several top-ranking Republicans.

Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told The Hill on Tuesday he would “be supportive of what’s being proposed, which is a six-year term limit for each position.”

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Cantor told a crowd of students at American University in Washington, D.C., on Monday night he was all for leadership term limits.

The limits would be similar to those currently in place for GOP committee chairmen and ranking members.

But staff attorneys have told the GOP's transition team chairman, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), there’s a constitutional wrinkle, as term limits apply to the Speaker of the House — who is second, behind the vice president, in the presidential line of succession.

“There is a constitutional question when it comes to Speaker that would trump rules of the House. There is no limitation on Speaker’s service in the Constitution, I am told by lawyers. So then in Hastert’s fifth year, that was repealed out of the rules,” Walden said, referring to former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

“There’s currently no limit. The question on Speaker is — if the House chose to elect someone as Speaker, the Constitution would trump the House rules,” he said.

In fact, Walden said House Republicans voted to remove the term-limit rule adopted in 1995 that allowed an individual to serve only eight years as Speaker.

“[Then-Speaker] Newt [Gingrich] put himself under term limits in the House rules as Speaker — he never served long enough to have that effect,” Walden explained.

But the issue of term limits for other GOP leadership positions is “bubbling up,” Walden said.

“It’s just bubbling up, we had a discussion about it earlier this morning at the senior staff level and just what’s the status — it’s just floating out there right now, doesn’t mean it won’t happen,” Walden said as he headed to a transition team meeting.