What Are the Pros and Cons of Term Limits in Congress?

Pros – Arguments For Term Limits in the U.S. Congress

  1. Politicians in power are difficult to remove because of redistricting, DNC/RNC fund allocations, voting infrastructure, control over registration rules, and other unethical techniques.
  2. The current U.S. Congress is a horrendous failure with single-digit national approval ratings.
  3. Incumbents have media relationships and access to government resources that make it difficult for new candidates to win elections.
  4. Government workers are more loyal to politicians that got them their jobs or have control over their budgets; thus, they often sabotage new candidates running against them.
  5. Politicians focus on re-election rather than what’s best for the American people since they can stay in power indefinitely.
  6. New electees would bring new ideas and solutions.
  7. Lobbyists and rich campaign contributors usually direct their efforts at politicians already in power, putting new candidates at an another financial disadvantage.
  8. Senators and Congresspersons are less likely to be focused on special interests, pork spending, and repaying campaign contributors if they cannot stay in office indefinitely.
  9. Without term limits, a system of seniority has taken over the House and Senate, meaning lifetime politicians dominate committees and power structures; thus, newly elected officials have limited ability to make changes or influence policy.
  10. Term-limited politicians in their final years in office are more likely to ignore biased polls and media criticism to do what’s best of the country, trying to add tangible accomplishments to their legacy.
  11. Term limits are more likely to lead to a “citizen Congress”, the way the founders intended, rather than one filled with lawyers and career politicians.
  12. Career politicians are less likely to go against party leaders, even if their conscience tells them otherwise, as they may lose all party support for future elections and bills.
  13. An exploding national debt, insolvent entitlement spending, and other critical issues will never be addressed without term limits, as career politicians don’t want to risk their power on such controversial issues.
  14. There is less chance of corruption since it doesn’t pay to bribe a politician who won’t be in power very long, and new electees are less likely to have the knowledge on how to exploit the system.
  15. Members of Congress work together to keep each other in power and prevent outsiders from being elected who may disrupt the status quo and “drain the swamp”.
  16. Politicians in power for too long become jaded and cynical with little energy to force much-needed changes, while new electees come in motivated and enthusiastic.

Cons – Arguments Against Term Limits in the U.S. Congress

  1. The rare good, ethical, productive leaders who deserve to stay in office will be kicked out by term limits.
  2. There’s a learning curve in Congress, so new electees don’t necessarily have the knowledge and experience to get things done.
  3. Politicians leaving office take with them their experience and contacts, which are required to get things accomplished.
  4. It’s difficult to compromise and cut deals when you don’t know your fellow senators and congressmen. It takes time to develop relationships when you’re dealing with the 535 people making laws and setting budgets.
  5. Politicians in their last term are more likely to ignore the will of their constituents since they don’t have to worry about re-election.

Recommended Solution

  • Pass a Constitutional Amendment to limit U.S. Senators to two terms (12 years) and Congressional Representatives to five terms (10 years).
  • Since there’s no way long-term incumbents will vote themselves immediately out of office, restart the term clock from zero. In other words, Senators currently in power would get a max of two more terms; Representatives in power would get five more terms.

real-problem-isnt-who-spends-4-8-years-white-house-spend-30-to-40-in-congress
if we had term limits none of these idios in office pelosi schumer lee watters feinstein
am i only one who things congressional term limits best thing could happen to america
thomas-jefferson-term-limits-by-throwing-rascals-out-from-time-to-time-reminds-government-exists-to-serve-us
see a lot of posts on term limits never heard anyone question at campaign rally debate or fundraising event
16 good reasons for term limits watters rangel graham durbin king mcconnell mccain
term limits would cure both senility and seniority harry truman
you cant fix stupid but you can term limit them out of office
career politicians ruining america no one should be in congress 30 or 40 years
quote term limits increase likelihood congress plan return to private sector have to live laws they create
government repair kit nooses


Written by: Joe Messerli
Last Modified: 1/23/2020

6 thoughts on “What Are the Pros and Cons of Term Limits in Congress?

  1. More power is likely to inure to the administrative state with congressional term limits. With carefully considered exceptions, let’s limit how long people can work elsewhere in government too.

    • Get rid of federal pensions — ALL federal employees at all levels get Social Security like the rest of US …

      • I like the idea insofar as most of these jobs shouldn’t be careers. So yes, let’s pay them well, but only for the relatively short time they’re on the job.

        Sort of along those lines, how about this for an idea? Let’s change the way we compensate congress. Let’s pay them the median earned income as base pay, then if, and only if, we have both real GDP growth and a budget surplus do they get a bonus. Let this bonus come from a couple percent of the surplus divided among themselves. In a good year they could each make $10 million! In a bad year, they’d be doing only as well as the rest of us. Here’s the other wrinkle. Above 3x their base pay, they can’t collect until they leave office, it just accrues in an account somewhere.

  2. How about simplifying elections and term limits even more — elect ALL of Congress (Senate and House) every 4 years like we now do the President (i.e., every Leap Year — plus the century years) … and limit all of the above (POTUS, Senate and House) to the 2 terms of 4 years that currently applies to the POTUS.

    In other words, make the 22d Amendment applicable to Senate and House members —

    Follows the KISS principle — maybe even Common Sense 101 …

    • Even simpler plan:
      Years ending in 0 or 5: Executive Branch Election
      Years ending in 1 or 6: Gubernatorial Elections
      Years ending in 2 or 7: Legislative Branch Election
      Years ending in 3 or 8: State Level Legislative Elections
      Years ending in 4 or 9: Local Authority Elections

      No reelection to the same level, thus no one could have an elected political career greater than 25 years.

      • Really like the idea, Marc. Another advantage of your plan – politicians would have to get elected on their own merits, not on the coattails of some other popular person running in the same party.

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