A new study from the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC) found that 83 percent of Americans favor a constitutional amendment that imposes term limits on members of Congress.
The survey data from PPC shows little difference in support for term limits among various political affiliations: 86 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Democrats, and 84 percent of independents.
When given the opportunity to specify an ideal number of terms for a congressional lawmaker to serve, the median responses were four terms for House members, and two terms for senators.
“Bipartisan majorities of Americans continue to favor proposals to limit the terms of Members of Congress,” Steven Kull, director of PPC, said in a statement. “The overwhelming support for congressional term limits is also mirrored in the support for ballot measures to term limit state legislators in 16 states.”
The first vote on congressional term limits took place in 1945. The most recent attempt was in 1995.
While 16 states have passed laws on term limits for state-level officials, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it would be unconstitutional for states to impose term limits for federal positions and that a constitutional amendment is necessary to establish term limits on federal legislators.
Recently, conversations about term limits have arisen again, as concerns mount over the age of 2024 presidential candidates, the age of long-serving lawmakers, and “lifers” in congress — the nation’s 10 longest serving lawmakers have a combined 421 years in office.
According to the PPC survey, the most popular argument for term limits states that incumbents have too much security in their seats, reducing the need for lawmakers to be responsive to their constituents. The favored arguments against term limits are that they would reduce the amount of experience in Congress, and there is some research showing term limits don’t increase responsiveness.
Recently, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) introduced a constitutional amendment to impose congressional term limits. The proposal would restrict a senator to serving only two six-year terms. It would limit members in the House to serving only three two-year terms.
“Term limits are critical to fixing what’s wrong with Washington, D.C. The Founding Fathers envisioned a government of citizen legislators who would serve for a few years and return home, not a government run by a small group of special interests and lifelong, permanently entrenched politicians who prey upon the brokenness of Washington to govern in a manner that is totally unaccountable to the American people,” Cruz said of the proposed amendment.
“Terms [sic] limits brings about accountability that is long overdue and I urge my colleagues to advance this amendment along to the states so that it may be quickly ratified and become a constitutional amendment,” he added.