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Essay on Should we Have Term Limits for Members of the US Congress?

Date:  2021-05-24 03:04:10
4 pages  (880 words)
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A two-term limit is set by the 22nd Amendment on the office of the President (Nicandro, 2016). The question that begs is whether members of the other branches must do the same. The move to limit the presidents term was encouraged by George Washington. He created the norm of presidents leaving office after serving two terms. He is celebrated for his decision to step down by Alexander Hamilton in One Last Time. Washington was asked in this song why do you have to say goodbye (Nicandro, 2016)? In his response he submitted that the nation learns to move on when Im gone. This step was perceived a move to prevent tyrannical power. However, there are still questions on whether there should be term limits on Congress. This paper argues that this should be the case.

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Term limits are required in all government levels. Despites this, given the major electoral edge incumbents have, the low turnover rate, increasing threat from special interest coupled with the unique power wielded by federal legislators, applying term limits would be the best thing (Greenberg, 2016). The first argument in favor of term limits is that it counterbalances the competitive edge that incumbents have. Congressional term limits in this regard are important in dealing with disparities that impede opponents and support incumbents. For example, every House Member gets about $1000, 000 annually to pay for mail, employee salaries and other expenses including office and travel. Incumbents keep receiving salaries in excess of $130,000 annually even while campaign (Greenberg, 2016). This gives them an edge over their opponents.

It is also important to note that Congressional term limits would trigger independent judgment. In some of the cases where Congress has created term limits, there was limited service on the House and Senate intelligence committees (Greenberg, 2016). This was based on the fact that long-term membership could see members pledge allegiance to the intelligence bureaucracy and this would interfere with their ability to exercise independent judgment. The mandatory term limit is founded on theory of human conduct. However, it requires broader application. It must also be noted that term limits would serve as reality check. Members of the Congress would constantly be reminded of what life is like in the real world. After trying to succeed in business to no avail following 18 years in Congress, Senator George McGovern reckoned I wish I had known a little more about the problems of the private sector. I have to pay taxes, meet a payroll. I wish I had a better sense of what it took to do when I was in Washington (Greenberg, 2016). Making sure that members have a taste of life outside Congress would help in inculcating more knowledge about the logic and the restrictions of federal regulation.


Opponents argue that when someone lasts a longer duration in a certain job, he or she would be more skilled and experienced than was the case when they started the work (Caress & Kunioka, 2012). In this regard, Congressional term limits restrict a persons opportunity of growing into the position and gaining more skills. They argue that this kind of job could be overwhelming at the beginning, therefore ensuring that Congressmen are given time to grow would be a welcomed move (Caress & Kunioka, 2012). It must however be noted that long-term service has dented the image of Congress members. This is well presented by Epstein (2010). He noted that like other numerous concerns, this narrows down to evaluation of one error. This is the mistake of keeping individuals in office who in essence should be out. As far as he is concerned, the longer the time one serves in Congress, the more likely it is that this mistake will increase. On the same note, Epstein (2010) noted that the harm which originates from consistent excessive influence on the basis of seniority worsens with age.

To this effect, term limits would help restore dignity for Congress. The employment of discreditable strategies for instance pork-barreling which could have major electoral impacts has been touted as a cause of diminishing respect for Congress (Greenberg, 2016). Through term limits, this situation would be addressed, making sure that members represent their communities. In addition, it would renew citizenship by adopting the idea that people are able to govern themselves and the fact that this representation can be undertaken by any interested citizen who has the knowledge, skills and abilities.


In summary, the best method that can be used to re-energize the government would be to bring new legislators who have new ideas, insight and with better incentives. This would help in in boosting development while trying out the different leadership styles of individuals. The deep rooted culture of long-term service that has dogged Congress over the years can only be changed by imposing term limits. This culture must be changed given that it undermines public interest.


Caress, S & Kunioka, T. (2012). Term limits and their consequences: The aftermath of legislative reform. SUNY Press.

Epstein, R. (2010). Why we need term limits for congress: Four in the senate, ten in the house. Tennessee Law Review 849.

Greenberg, D. (2016). Term limits: The only way to clean up congress. Retrieved from, I. (2016). Should there be term limits for members of Congress and the Supreme Court? Retrieved from

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