Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea

House Republicans are pushing back on President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pitches Goya Foods products on Twitter Sessions defends recusal: 'I leave elected office with my integrity intact' Former White House physician Ronny Jackson wins Texas runoff MORE’s suggestion that they extend term limits for committee chairmen and ranking members as a way to stem the tide of retiring veteran lawmakers.

“We have the term limits in place for a reason: to make sure that we continue to turn over the leadership to, I wouldn’t say younger, but fresh ideas among other members, and to keep people interested in staying here” in Congress, Rep. David JoyceDavid Patrick JoyceThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Trump takes his 'ready to reopen' mantra on the road GE cutting up to one-quarter of aviation unit's workers Boeing suspends Washington production, GE Aviation lays off thousands MORE (R-Ohio), a senior member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, told The Hill.

“Otherwise, if members know they have to stay 20 to 30 years before they get a chance to be chairman, why would they do it?” he asked.

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GOP rules, first enacted in 1995, state that the time a lawmaker serves as either chairman or ranking member counts toward the six-year term limit. In rare cases, the GOP Steering Committee has granted a waiver, like it did in 2012 when it extended then-Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBush, Romney won't support Trump reelection: NYT Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why Lobbying world MORE’s (R-Wis.) tenure as head of the Budget Committee.

So far, 15 House Republicans this election cycle have said they are resigning, retiring or running for another office. The so-called 2020 “casualty list” includes former Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopOVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower cites Trump tweets as impetus for California emissions probe | Democrats set July vote for major conservation bill, blaming Republicans for delay | Trump vows crackdown on monument vandalism Democrats set July vote for major conservation bill, blaming Republicans for delay Natural Resources Democrats again rebuff Republican complaints about virtual meetings MORE (Utah) and former Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayLive coverage: Democrats, Republicans seek to win PR battle in final House impeachment hearing Laughter erupts at hearing after Democrat fires back: Trump 'has 5 Pinocchios on a daily basis' Live coverage: Schiff closes with speech highlighting claims of Trump's corruption MORE (Texas), who are both facing term limits as the top Republicans on their respective panels.

Longtime Rep. Jim SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerLobbying world House Judiciary Committee calls on Bezos to testify as part of antitrust probe GOP, Democratic senators call for more assistance to local media in coronavirus stimulus MORE (R-Wis.), who chaired the Judiciary and Science committees during the late 1990s and 2000s, also said he’s not running for reelection.

And several other past chairmen and ranking members facing term limits in 2020 have been rumored to be eyeing the exits as well, including Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryFormer White House physician Ronny Jackson wins Texas runoff Trump makes late push for two Texas Republicans 4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch MORE (Texas) on Armed Services, Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradySupreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress House fires back at Trump by passing ObamaCare expansion Congress set for fight over expiring unemployment relief MORE (Texas) on Ways and Means and Rep. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotDemocrats release bilingual ads on police reform bill Ohio is suddenly a 2020 battleground House passes bill to grant flexibility for small business aid program MORE (Ohio) on Small Business.

Rep. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonGOP lawmaker: Refusal to wear masks is 'tragic' The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases Karen Bass's star rises after leading police reform push MORE (R-Mich.), who served as Energy and Commerce chairman from 2011 to 2017, has also been mentioned as potentially departing.

Already, five Texas Republicans announced over the summer that they’re leaving the House. Thornberry added to that anxiety by telling a local TV station this week he didn’t know if he’d run for reelection.

“I’ll have a final decision and announcement on that before too long,” he told KXAN in Austin.

Brady, the affable former Ways and Means Committee chairman who is now ranking member, said he wasn’t aware of Trump’s idea to extend term limits for committee leaders. Asked if he would be following his Lone Star State colleagues out the door this cycle, Brady ignored the question and walked onto the House floor to vote.

It’s unclear why Trump began tweeting Monday about the need to extend the six-year term limit for committee leaders. Some Republicans surmised that a GOP committee leader had been complaining about the term limits during a conversation with Trump about retiring from Congress.

Trump tweeted that the House GOP’s internal rules should allow their chairmen and ranking members to serve more than six years. Democrats have no such limits in place, meaning a chairman or ranking member could lead a committee for as long as they like once they rise to the top spot.

“It forces great people, and real leaders, to leave after serving,” Trump tweeted. “The Dems have unlimited terms. While that has its own problems, it is a better way to go. Fewer people, in the end, will leave!”

When reporters followed up later on Monday, Trump did not seem to fully understand the internal rules. He said committee chairmen frequently retire because they can’t go “back to being a regular congressman or woman,” even though they can. Upton, for example, was term limited as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee but has continued to serve in Congress.

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The party’s internal rules governing term limits were enacted shortly after the GOP took control of the House in 1995 during the Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE-led Republican revolution that included a huge freshman class eager to overhaul Washington.

“I disagree with the Republican system,” Trump told reporters. Not having term limits is “one of the only things I agree with the Democrats on; I really think it’s better to have a longer term.”

The issue could come up during this week’s House GOP policy retreat in Baltimore, which the president will attend. But the idea of term limits was not mentioned during Tuesday’s weekly GOP conference meeting, lawmakers said.

For now, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel 4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch Congress under pressure to provide billions for school openings MORE (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseRepublicans say Biden energy plan will help GOP in rust belt states GOP lawmaker: Don't believe polls showing Trump behind Biden 4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch MORE (R-La.) are cool to the idea of extending term limits — or scrapping them all together. Scalise and other Republicans argue that the internal strife in the Democratic caucus, the frustration from younger ambitious lawmakers, can be directly traced to the fact that Democrats don’t have any term limits for their committee chairmen.

“It’s something that our conference put in place years ago and I think it’s a real contrast with the Democrats,” Scalise told reporters. “They can serve 30 years and some of them are chairman almost forever and so it takes away from other members of the committee who think they have a chance to become a chairman.

“Someone who does a great job as chairman, they’ve got their time to make their six years count, and [then] someone else will have an opportunity.”

Bishop, the former Natural Resources Committee chairman who is now the ranking member, said term limits were the “primary reason” he decided to retire this cycle.

“I made this decision in 2012 … I’d have six years to lead a committee, then it would be the right thing to go. So yeah, if it was longer, I would have probably stayed longer,” Bishop said in a brief interview just off the House floor.

But the Utah Republican added that he remains torn about whether it would be beneficial to the GOP to extend or do away with term limits.

“I really don’t know if it’s the right thing to do; there is a value in turnover,” Bishop said. “If you sit back and think about it, six years is a decent amount of time. It just goes by so quickly.”

And sometimes you lose and find yourself in the minority, a reporter said.

“Then it sucks,” Bishop replied without missing a beat.