Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and several Republican colleagues reintroduced a constitutional amendment that would set congressional term limits.
If Cruz’s proposal were to succeed, it would restrict U.S. senators to two six-year terms and representatives to three two-year terms — an idea that most Americans like.
They shouldn’t get their hopes up, said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University.
“There’s absolutely zero [congressional] support for federal term limits,” Jones said.
Cruz also spearheaded the effort to keep the loser of the 2020 presidential election in office for another four years, so it may surprise some that he’s trying to rein in federal tenure. Other cynics have been quick to point out that Cruz’s move comes as calls for his resignation mount.
Indeed, Cruz is probably using the proposal “more as political theater than as substantive public policy,” Jones said.
“It allows you to propose something that will appeal to the base, but has no hope whatsoever of actually getting adopted and therefore, ever applied to you,” he said.
Cruz reintroduced the legislation after pushing for it in 2017 and 2019. Former President Donald Trump expressed support for the idea, but those bills never made it to the Senate floor, according to the New York Post.
In a statement, Cruz said the nation’s founders would resist the “careerism” present in today’s politics, according to the Post. He went on to write that he will “continue fighting to hold career politicians accountable.”
“Every year, Congress spends billions of dollars on giveaways for the well-connected: Washington insiders get taxpayer money and members of Congress get re-elected, all while the system fails the American people,” Cruz said.
For an amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution, it would require approval by two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate and ratification by three-fourths of the states. Although some states might go for the move, Jones said getting Congress to approve it would just be "a bridge too far.”
Even if a congressional Democrat supported it in principle, Jones said they likely wouldn’t go near something Cruz is backing.
Cruz’s latest attempt will provide him with political ammo, Jones said. By filing it with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in control of the agenda, Cruz is putting pressure on the liberals to bring it to floor, which they aren’t likely to do.
Regardless, Cruz’s Twitter announcement on the amendment inspired hope among many social media users. One commenter wrote that they disagree with him on “a number of issues” but are “100% behind this initiative.” Another asked whether they could set a term limit for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that “ends tomorrow.”
Can we set a term limit for Pelosi that ends tomorrow.— Brant Peacher (@BrantPeacher) January 25, 2021
Term limits are especially popular in North Texas. According to a poll conducted last summer, 72% of registered voters in Congressional District 24 — which covers portions of Tarrant, Denton and Dallas counties — said they favored such a measure, according to advocacy organization U.S. Term Limits.
Even if did get the green light, Cruz’s own career in deep-red Texas would be secure for some time; Chron reported that 2036 would be the soonest he’d be booted.
Still, Cruz critics can dream.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.