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Houston Matters

Why Don’t Term Limit Proposals Usually Pass?

Sen. Ted Cruz recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to establish term limits for Senators and members of Congress. We examine why such efforts don’t usually succeed.



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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has introduced a proposed Constitutional amendment to establish term limits for Senators and members of Congress. His proposal would limit Senators to two six-year terms and House members to just three two-year terms.

It's not the first time Cruz has called for term limits. It's also not the first time any lawmaker has proposed them. But they never go anywhere. Why not?

See, there's an inherent problem: How do you get people in power to voluntarily limit that power? How do you get members of the Senate and House to agree to conditions that might shift the balance of power in those bodies? And amending the Constitution — as would be needed to limit federal officeholders — is especially difficult.

In the audio above, Teddy Rave from the University of Houston Law Center explains how term limits have been enacted in the past and some of the legal challenges with doing so.

Then, political analyst Nancy Sims discusses the history of term limits in local, state, and national government and why they’ve never been passed for certain positions.

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