- U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett represents Tennessee’s 2nd congressional district. He was formerly mayor of Knox County.
If my brief time in the U.S. House of Representatives has taught me anything, it’s that Congress will never be fixed without term limits. That’s why I’m hoping the Tennessee General Assembly will support a term-limits convention and pass House Joint Resolution 8 (HJR 8).
Unlike Tennessee, Washington operates like it is on a different planet where economics and reality don’t matter. Tennessee has a citizen legislature with the guts to make tough calls and balance the budget each year. In Washington, we don’t even pass an annual budget. Members of Congress need to be more focused on working for the American public instead of on their next reelection campaigns.
When the Founding Fathers designed our federal government, they did not envision a permanent political elite. They wanted people from all walks of life to serve for a short while, then return home to live under the laws they had made. Thomas Jefferson called this “rotation in office.” John Adams referred to it as “university in rotation.”
Whatever name one gives it, the idea of term limits lives within the American spirit, and we are long overdue to return to this founding principle.
The American people agree. According to a poll from McLaughlin and Associates, 82% of Americans favor congressional term limits, including 89% of Republicans, 76% of Democrats and 83% of independent voters. Not only are congressional term limits broadly popular, there is also solid bipartisan support for them.
I am currently a co-sponsor of H.J.Res.12 in the U.S. House of Representatives, a constitutional amendment limiting representatives to three two-year terms and senators to two six-year terms. I wish all my colleagues would join me in this commonsense effort, but the reality is that Congress is unlikely to term-limit itself. We need Tennessee’s help in getting this done.
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Article V of the Constitution outlines two ways to propose a constitutional amendment for congressional term limits. The first — and unlikely — method is by getting two-thirds of Congress to vote for it. The second method is by having 34 state legislatures apply for a convention to propose the term-limits amendment, which is what the Tennessee General Assembly is working on now with HJR 8.
A term-limits convention would take the keys away from Washington power brokers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, putting the people of Tennessee and the other 49 states back in the driver’s seat.
It is obvious to all that our federal government is on an unsustainable path. Debt and deficits have skyrocketed. Congress refuses to do its job.
The good news is we don’t need to wait on Washington to fix itself. The Founding Fathers gave us a solution and it starts right here in Tennessee.
I enthusiastically endorse HJR 8 and a term-limits convention; now let’s make it happen.
U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett represents Tennessee’s 2nd congressional district. He was formerly mayor of Knox County.