Former Presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has brought an age-old argument back to the forefront - term limits for representatives.
This time, however, there’s a physical bill to go with the noise - Senate Joint Resolution 2.
Introduced by Sen. Cruz and supported by roughly eight other legislators - all Republican - the language hopes to limit senators to two terms (12 years) and congressman to three terms (six years).
The proposition’s purpose is simple - going along with the “drain the swamp” slogan of Donald Trump, Cruz was quoted as saying “(Washington) D.C. is broken” and “a graveyard of good intentions.”
Many Americans feel that being a representative should not be a career path, rather a form of civil service. While the bill does not go so far as to remove salaries - and it shouldn’t - it reasons that cycling new blood into Washington will help bring in fresh ideas and keep those in Washington from going stale or sliding down the path of corruption (or both).
The bill fails to mention whether or not representatives can come back, although one would figure the answer to that question is ‘no’. However, if that is the case, it should be questioned what happens to those legislators who are cut off mid-stream?
This becomes an especially important question for the men and women of Congress, who must run every two years for their seat. Considered from a local angle, Louisiana 6th District Congressman Garret Graves won his first re-election by a landslide.
As well he should have - Graves worked hard in his first two years in the seat, earning himself a sub-committee chair position upon re-election.
However, should the bill pass, Graves’ limited time will begin. His only option at the end of those years would be to move to the Senate, if he could win that particular election.
That’s what Bill Cassidy did, and his move opened the door for Graves to run. So, perhaps, finding new ways to get new minds into Washington isn’t such a bad thing - it’s how the path was laid down for Mr. Graves to enter office.
Term limits would also break up much of the “fraternity rules” that govern the Capitol - instead of coming in and having to treatise with career congressman who have all of the pull, newbies could have slightly more flexibility with bills that affect their home districts and getting them pushed through.
However, that only covers one of the big reasons that D.C. has become a “graveyard of good intentions.” The other elephant in the room? Lobbying laws.
Lobbying is a multi-billion dollar - per year - part of government. In 2015, $3.22 billion was spent, overall, on influencing your representatives vote. In some cases, those votes may work out for the congressman’s home district.
In some cases, they don’t.
Take the Affordable Care Act, for instance. The final iteration, once we the people so famously ‘found out what was in it once it was passed’ had the fingerprints of the insurance lobby all over it. Notably absent was change to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry.
The insurance lobby spends, roughly, $150 million per year on influence. Pharmaceuticals and health? $247 million per year, almost like clockwork.
That money has practical purposes for representatives, however, and it’s hard to fault them for taking it into their war chests. Not every congressional district is created equal, and for some a campaign every two years gets expensive. Senators have to run state-wide, sometimes competing against home-town favorites in some areas.
Perhaps term limits will help by allowing incumbents to run simply on merit - they’d have to do something truly heinous to lose, meaning the war chest money may not be so necessary.
That still does not remove the lobbying market - and yes, it is a market all unto itself. We, the voters, sit here 1,100 miles away from Washington and must hope that our voice reaches a higher octave than that of the money-wielding lobbyist who visits, face-to-face, almost weekly.
Sadly, as we saw with Obamacare and, specifically, the current state of the pharmaceutical market - the answer for the nation-wide bills is that our voice probably isn’t loud enough.