Term Limits


Term limits refers to the possibility of passing an amendment to the Constitution to limit the number of years that a national representative can hold office by limiting the number of terms that they can seek re-election. When the Constitution was written, no limits were placed on the number of years or terms that any representative could stay in office. After his second term as President, George Washington stepped down and did not seek reelection. Although not legally required, no President was elected to a third term until Franklin D Roosevelt won a third and then fourth term during the second world war. The 22nd amendment was ratified in February of 1951 to limit any person to two terms (eight years) in office.

Several attempts have been made to limit the number of terms that Senators and Congressmen can hold office. Most attempts seek to limit the time in office to 12 years, which would limit the Senators to 2 terms and the House members to 6 terms.

As part of the Contract with America, House Republicans attempted to established terms limits for Congress equal to 12 years in office. However, they failed to achieve the 2/3 majority required to pass an amendment through the Congress.

If a representative has commented on supporting or opposing term limits, it will be listed under this tab, and may also be mentioned under the ethics tab if the candidate or representative ties the issue to ethics.


The Citizen Legislature Act

As part of the Contract with America, the Republicans promised to push for term limits. This would require a constitutional amendment which needs a 2/3 majority in each chamber of Congress and ratification by 2/3 of the states. The vote on this legislation achieved a majority vote in the House in March of 1995, but did not achieve the 2/3 required.