[Senate Report 104-158]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

                                                       Calendar No. 201
104th Congress                                                   Report

 1st Session                                                    104-158

                       CONGRESSIONAL TERM LIMITS


 October 17 (legislative day, October 10), 1995.--Ordered to be printed


Mr. Hatch, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with


                      [To accompany S.J. Res. 21]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to which was referred the 
joint resolution (S.J. Res. 21), proposing a constitutional 
amendment to limit congressional terms, having considered the 
same, reports favorably thereon, and recommends that the joint 
resolution, as amended in the Subcommittee on Constitution, 
Federalism, and Property Rights, do pass.


   I.  Purpose........................................................2
  II.  Legislative history............................................2
 III.  Text of S.J. Res. 21, as amended...............................4
  IV.  Section-by-section analysis....................................4
   V.  Discussion.....................................................5
  VI.  Subcommittee action............................................7
 VII.  Committee action...............................................7
VIII.  Regulatory impact statement....................................8
  IX.  Cost estimate..................................................8
   X.  Changes is existing law........................................8
  XI.  Additional views of Mr. Hatch..................................9
 XII.  Additional views of Messrs. Brown, Thompson, Kyl, and DeWine..12
XIII.  Additional views of Mr. Abraham...............................19
 XIV.  Additional views of Mr. Biden.................................20
  XV.  Additional views of Mr. Leahy.................................22
 XVI.  Additional views of Messrs. Simon and Kennedy.................28
XVII.  Additional views of Mr. Kohl..................................31
XVIII. Minority views of Messrs. Biden, Kennedy, Leahy, Heflin, Simon, 
      and Feingold...................................................32
 XIX.  Minority views of Mr. Feingold................................35

                               I. Purpose

    The purpose of Senate Joint Resolution 21 is to limit the 
number of terms a Member of Congress may serve. Senate Joint 
Resolution 21, if approved by two-thirds of the Members of both 
the Senate and the House of Representatives, and if ratified by 
three-fourths of the States, will limit Senators to two terms 
and Members of the House of Representatives to six terms.

                        II. Legislative History

    In 1789, Representative Thomas Tucker offered the first 
term limits proposal: a 1-year Senate term limited to 5 years 
in any 6-year period and a 2-year House term limited to 6 years 
in any 8-year period. Tucker's motion to refer the proposal to 
the Committee of the Whole was defeated August 18, 1789.
    A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee held the 
first term limits hearings on September 27, 1945, regarding 
S.J. Res. 21, a resolution to limit service of the President, 
Vice-President, and Members of Congress to 6 years.
    The first Senate vote on term limits occurred on March 12, 
1947. Senator W. Lee O'Daniel of Texas introduced an amendment 
to limit congressional terms to the proposed constitutional 
amendment in H.J. Res. 27, which limited the President to two 
terms. The O'Daniel amendment failed by a vote of 82 to 1.
    Term limits were revisited by the Senate Subcommittee on 
the Constitution at hearings on March 14 and 16, 1978. The 
subcommittee considered S.J. Res. 27, and S.J. Res. 28, which 
limited Senators to two terms and House Members to seven terms 
and six terms, respectively.
    The next Senate vote on term limits occurred May 22, 1991. 
Senator Hank Brown of Colorado offered an amendment to S. 3, a 
campaign finance reform bill, to limit the use of public funds 
by Representatives or Senators who serve an aggregate of more 
than 12 years in the House or Senate. The Brown amendment was 
tabled by a vote of 68 to 30. The following Senators supported 
term limits by voting against the motion to table:

        Bond, Brown, Burns, Coats, Cochran, Craig, D'Amato, 
        Dole, Domenici, Garn, Gorton, Gramm, Grassley, Hatch, 
        Kasten, Lott, Mack, McCain, McConnell, Murkowski, 
        Nickles, Pressler, Seymour, Simpson, Smith, Stevens, 
        Symms, Thurmond, Wallop, Warner.

    The last Senate vote on congressional term limits occurred 
on May 26, 1993. Senator Lauch Faircloth of North Carolina and 
Senator Brown again offered an amendment to a campaign finance 
reform measure that would restrict the use of public funds for 
those serving more than 12 years. The amendment was tabled by a 
vote of 57 to 39. Senators voting against the motion to table 
were as follows:

        Bennett, Bond, Brown, Burns, Campbell, Coats, Cochran, 
        Coverdell, Craig, D'Amato, Danforth, DeConcini, Dole, 
        Domenici, Durenberger, Exon, Faircloth, Gorton, Gramm, 
        Grassley, Gregg, Hatch, Hatfield, Kassebaum, 
        Kempthorne, Lott, Mack, McCain, McConnell, Murkowski, 
        Nickles, Packwood, Pressler, Simpson, Smith, Specter, 
        Stevens, Thurmond, Wallop.

    The House of Representatives held hearings on the subject 
of term limits during the 103d Congress. The House Subcommittee 
on Civil and Constitutional Rights held hearings on November 
18, 1993, and June 29, 1994, to discuss the history of term 
limits, the Framers' view of rotation in office, and the 
arguments for and against term limitations.
    On January 19, 1995, Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee 
introduced Senate Joint Resolution 21 proposing a 
constitutional amendment to limit congressional terms to two 
terms for Senators and three terms for Representatives.
    The Subcommittee on Constitution, Federalism, and Property 
Rights of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held hearings 
on congressional term limits on January 25, 1995. The 
subcommittee took testimony on S.J. Res. 21 and S.J. Res. 19 as 
well as the statutory approaches to term limits embodied in S. 
271 and S. 272.
    Following the hearing, the subcommittee marked up S.J. Res. 
21 on February 1, 1995. The three following amendments were 
adopted by voice vote:

   1) Clarify that the amendment will apply prospectively;
   2) change the ratification procedure from ratification by 
            State constitutional conventions to ratification by 
            State legislatures;
   3) impose a term limit of six terms on Representatives.

    The subcommittee passed S.J. Res. 21, as amended by 
rollcall vote, with five yeas and three nays.
    Senate Joint Resolution 21, as amended, was marked up by 
the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on February 9, 1995. 
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont offered an amendment to apply 
term limits retroactively. The amendment was defeated by a vote 
of 11 nays to 5 yeas.
    The committee then passed S.J. Res. 21 by a rollcall vote, 
with 11 yeas and 7 nays.
    The first House vote on term limits occurred March 29, 
1995, when one resolution and three amendments were considered. 
Representative Bill McCollum of Florida authored the underlying 
House Joint Resolution 73 proposing a constitutional amendment 
to limit congressional terms to two terms for Senators and six 
terms for Representatives.
    The first amendment to H.J. Res. 73, offered by 
Representative Pete Peterson of Florida, would make term limits 
retroactive and limit Representatives to six terms and Senators 
to two terms. It would also protect State laws limiting 
congressional terms of service if the State laws are shorter. 
This amendment was rejected 135 to 297.
    The second amendment, offered by Representative Bob Inglis 
of South Carolina, proposed to limit Members of the House to 
three terms and Members of the Senate to two terms and defines 
a full term to be more than 50 percent of a term. This 
amendment failed by a vote of 114 to 316.
    The third amendment, offered by Representative Van Hilleary 
of Tennessee, proposed to limit Representatives to six terms in 
office and Senators to two terms, while allowing State laws to 
preempt the legislation if State limits are shorter. This 
amendment also failed, by a vote of 164 to 265.
    A final vote on H.J. Res. 73 failed to obtain the necessary 
two-thirds of those present, by a vote of 227 to 204.

                 III. Text of S.J. Res. 21, as Amended

                        [104th Cong., 1st sess.]

    JOINT RESOLUTION proposing a constitutional amendment to limit 
                          congressional terms

    Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of 
the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds 
of each House concurring therein), That the following article 
is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United 

                              ``Article --

    ``Section 1. After this article becomes operative, no 
person shall be elected to a full term as a Senator more than 
twice, or to a full term as a Representative more than six 
times; no person who has been a Senator for more than three 
years of a term to which some other person was elected shall 
subsequently be elected as a Senator more than once; and no 
person who has been a Representative for more than a year of a 
term to which some other person was elected shall subsequently 
be elected as a Representative more than five times.
    ``Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it 
shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by 
the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within 
seven years from the date of its submission to the States by 
the Congress.
    ``Section 3. No election or service occurring before 
ratification of this article shall be taken into account when 
determining eligibility for election under section 1.''.

                    IV. Section-by-Section Analysis

Section 1

    This is the operative section that limits congressional 
terms to two terms in the Senate and to six terms in the House 
of Representatives.
    This section also clarifies how the language applies to 
partial terms in both the House and the Senate. This section 
declares that 3 years of a Senate term and 1 year of a House 
term constitute a full term for purposes of calculating the 
limit on the number of terms that may be served.

Section 2

    Article V of the U.S. Constitution describes the manner in 
which the Constitution may be amended. After a constitutional 
amendment is proposed by Congress or by a constitutional 
convention, article V sets forth two paths for ratification. 
One way is ratification by constitutional conventions in three-
fourths of the States. Another way is ratification by three-
fourths of the State legislatures.
    All amendments to the U.S. Constitution have been ratified 
by State legislatures, with the one exception of the 21st 
amendment to the Constitution, which repealed the 
constitutional amendment imposing prohibition. It seems more 
reasonable to follow the ratification procedure that has been 
used almost every time the Constitution has been amended.
    Originally, S.J. Res. 21 called for ratification by State 
constitutional conventions. In the Subcommittee on 
Constitution, Federalism, and Property Rights, section 2 was 
changed to call for ratification by State legislatures in order 
to employ a ratification procedure that has the benefit of 

Section 3

    Most laws are applied prospectively to avoid the unfairness 
of changing the rules in the middle of the game. That same 
principle applies here. This proposed constitutional amendment 
is intended to apply prospectively only. That does not mean 
that sitting Members of Congress are ``grandfathered;'' they 
are not. Rather, sitting Members are term limited, and the 
clock starts running at the same time for all citizens--after 
    As originally drafted, S.J. Res. 21 was intended to be 
prospective only. In fact, it would reasonably be read to be 
prospective only. Nevertheless, it could be argued that the 
service of a sitting Member of Congress, prior to ratification, 
would be considered for purposes of the term limit imposed 
after ratification. To avoid the unfair result of 
retroactivity, the resolution was clarified to explicitly state 
that there would be no retroactive application.
    Some opponents have characterized this language as 
providing special treatment for Members of Congress. Some have 
gone so far as to claim that this language exempts sitting 
Members of Congress. The plain language of the amendment 
reveals that there is no special treatment. Quite the opposite 
is true: the amendment applies to Members of Congress exactly 
the same as it applies to other citizens.

                             V. Discussion

    Term limitation is not a new or untried idea. Term limits 
were in place before our Constitution was drafted. The Virginia 
Plan, the model for our current Constitution, contained term 
limits for elected officials; and in 1951, the 22d amendment to 
the Constitution was ratified by three-fourths of the States, 
imposing term limits on the President. Following passage of 
this amendment, President Dwight D. Eisenhower added, ``What is 
good for the President might very well be good for the 
    An overwhelming majority of Americans agree with President 
Eisenhower's statement. In a study conducted in January 1994, 
the Americans Talk Issues Foundation reported that even after 
hearing the strongest arguments for and against the issue, 
three out of every four citizens interviewed supported the idea 
of term limits. This support has translated into substantial 
action at the grassroots level and led to local campaigns, 
petitions, and voter initiatives.
    Since 1951, 35 States have imposed term limits on their 
governors and State legislators. Twenty-three States have also 
enacted term limits on their Federal congressional delegations. 
Of these 23 States, 21 passed term limits by ballot 
initiatives, with average support exceeding 64 percent. The 
remaining States, Utah and New Hampshire, passed term limits 
laws through their State legislatures. The 23 States include:

        Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, 
        Florida, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, 
        Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, 
        North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, 
        Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

    Unfortunately, the gains made by grassroots efforts were 
recently reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. On May 22, 1995, 
the Supreme Court declared all State term limit laws 
unconstitutional as they apply to Members of the U.S. Congress.
    In U.S. Term Limits, Inc. et al. v. Thornton, an Arkansas 
taxpayer challenged the constitutionality of Sec. 3 of 
amendment 73 to the Arkansas Constitution. That section 
prohibits the name of an otherwise eligible candidate for 
Congress from appearing on the general election ballot if that 
candidate has already served three terms in the House of 
Representatives or two terms in the Senate. Both the circuit 
court and the Arkansas Supreme Court found the provision 
unconstitutional because the States have no authority ``to 
change, add to, or diminish'' the requirements for 
congressional service enumerated in the qualifications clauses.
    In the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Stevens, writing for the 
five member majority, affirmed the decision of the Arkansas 
Supreme Court and held that:

   1) The power granted to each House of Congress to judge the 
            ``Qualifications of its own Members,'' art. I, 
            Sec. 5, cl. 1, does not include the power to alter 
            or add to the qualifications set forth in the 
            Constitution's text;
   2) the 10th amendment to the Constitution does not authorize 
            States to add to the qualifications listed in the 
   3) denying access to the ballot does not constitute a 
            permissible exercise of State power under the 
            elections clause of art. I, Sec. 4, cl. 1, to 
            regulate the ``Times, Places and Manner of holding 
            Elections;'' and
   4) term limits for congressional service ``must come through 
            a constitutional amendment properly passed under 
            the procedures set forth in Article V.''

    The dissent, written by Justice Thomas and joined by 
Justices Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Scalia, argued that nothing 
in the Constitution deprives the people of each State the power 
to proscribe eligibility requirements for the candidates who 
seek to represent them in Congress. The Constitution is silent 
on this issue, and where it is silent, the 10th amendment 
reserves the power to the States or to the people.
    The Court's unequivocal finding that term limits may only 
be imposed through a constitutional amendment effectively 
renders unconstitutional the statutes of the 23 States that 
passed congressional term limits.
    The only avenue left by the Court is for term limit 
supporters to pursue passage of a constitutional amendment. 
Article V of the Constitution prescribes two means of amending 
the Constitution:

   1) Through a constitutional convention called for by 
            Congress upon the application of 34 States; or
   2) through the recommendation of two-thirds of the Members 
            of both the House and Senate.

    Both methods are subject to ratification by either three-
fourths of the State legislatures or by ratifying conventions 
in three-fourths of the States.
    Although grassroots efforts are underway to organize the 
States and call for a constitutional convention, a more 
immediate answer for term limit supporters is embodied in 
securing the passage of S.J. Res. 21.

                        VI. Subcommittee Action

    The Senate Subcommittee on Constitution, Federalism, and 
Property Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary, with a 
quorum present, met on Wednesday, February 1, 1995, at 10 a.m. 
to mark up S.J. Res. 21.
    Three amendments were adopted by voice vote. Senator Brown 
offered two amendments which were accepted by voice vote: one 
to clarify that the amendment will apply prospectively and 
another to change the ratification procedure from ratification 
by State constitutional conventions to State legislatures. 
Senator Kyl offered an amendment to impose a limit of six terms 
on Representatives, instead of three terms as the bill 
originally specified, which was accepted by voice vote.
    The subcommittee then passed S.J. Res. 21, as amended, by 
rollcall vote, with five yeas and three nays. Senators Brown, 
Hatch, Kyl, DeWine, and Abraham voted in favor of the measure. 
Senators Simon, Kennedy, and Feingold voted against the 

                         VII. Committee Action

    The Senate Committee on the Judiciary, with a quorum 
present, met on Thursday, February 9, 1995, at 9 a.m. to mark 
up S.J. Res. 21, as reported by the Subcommittee on 
Constitution, Federalism, and Property Rights.
    Senator Leahy offered an amendment to apply term limits 
retroactively. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 11 nays 
to 5 yeas. Senators Leahy, Simon, Kohl, Feinstein, and Feingold 
voted for the measure. Senators Hatch, Thurmond, Simpson, 
Grassley, Brown, Thompson, DeWine, Abraham, Kyl, Biden, and 
Kennedy voted against the measure.
    The Committee on the Judiciary then passed S.J. Res. 21 by 
a rollcall vote, with 11 yeas and 7 nays. Senators Hatch, 
Thurmond, Simpson, Grassley, Brown, Thompson, DeWine, Abraham, 
Kyl, Kohl, and Feinstein voted in favor of the measure. 
Senators Biden, Kennedy, Leahy, Specter, Heflin, Simon, and 
Feingold voted against the measure.

                   VIII. Regulatory Impact Statement

    Pursuant to paragraph 11(b), rule XXVI of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the subcommittee, after due consideration, 
concludes that Senate Joint Resolution 21 will not have direct 
regulatory impact.

                           IX. Cost Estimate

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, February 9, 1995.
Hon. Orrin G. Hatch,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
reviewed S.J. Res. 21, a joint resolution proposing a 
constitutional amendment to limit congressional terms, as 
ordered reported by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on 
February 9, 1995. We expect that enactment of this resolution 
will result in no significant cost or savings to the federal 
government, and no significant cost to State and local 
    The joint resolution would propose amending the 
constitution to limit congressional terms to twelve years. The 
legislatures of three-fourths of the States would be required 
to ratify the proposed amendment within seven years for the 
amendment to become effective.
    Enactment of S.J. Res. 21 would not affect direct spending 
or receipts. Therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures would not 
apply to the bill.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Mary 
                                      Robert D. Reischauer,

                       X. Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the committee finds no changes in 
existing law caused by passage of Senate Joint Resolution 21.
                   XI. ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF MR. HATCH

    I believe that the proposed constitutional amendment on 
term limits for Members of Congress is an important issue that 
ought to be fully and carefully debated by the full Senate. For 
this reason, despite my own strong reservations about the 
merits of such an amendment, I have supported proponents of 
S.J. Res. 21 by ensuring its full and timely consideration by 
the Judiciary Committee and by voting to report it out to the 
    My strong reservations about the merits of a constitutional 
amendment on term limits prevent me from joining the committee 
report. Before outlining these reservations, let me emphasize 
two points. First, I have no personal interest in the prospects 
of such an amendment. Even were it to passed by Congress and 
ratified by the States in relatively short order, it likely 
would not bar me from running for reelection until the year 
2012, when I would hope to be a spry 78 years of age. There are 
many things that I hope to be doing in the year 2012. Running 
for reelection is not on the list. So I am offering here my own 
disinterested observations, based on my years of experience in 
serving the people of Utah in the U.S. Senate.
    Second, I have not used my power as chairman of the 
Judiciary Committee to stymie consideration of the term limits 
amendment merely because I have strong reservations about the 
merits of that amendment. Instead, I have sought to facilitate 
its timely and full consideration by the committee.
    Let me identify some of my major concerns about term 
limits. First, term limits would indiscriminately operate 
against both good legislators and bad legislators. I would 
rather place my confidence in the good judgment of voting 
Americans, who have shown time and time again that they can 
distinguish between those legislators who are working 
effectively to serve their interests and those who are not. I 
have far more trust in the wisdom of the voters than in an 
arbitrary rule that prevents voters from reelecting legislators 
whom they believe have been serving them well.
    Second, term limits threaten a massive and dangerous shift 
in power to an unaccountable Federal bureaucracy. In an 
increasingly complicated society, unelected, nameless, faceless 
bureaucrats wield extraordinary influence on matters that 
affect the daily lives, freedoms, and property of Americans. 
There is no question in my mind that my experience in Congress 
has made me better able to fight these bureaucrats. I fear that 
term limits would have the unintended consequence of further 
enhancing the power of an arrogant and heavyhanded bureaucracy.
    Third, term limits would make Senators and Representatives 
far more dependent on Capitol Hill staffers and special 
interest lobbyists. By shifting power from the legislators to 
the staffers and lobbyists, term limits might not only dilute 
the power of voters but also produce a Congress less responsive 
to their concerns.
    Fourth, there is justifiable concern that term limits 
would, in the words of one political scientist, ``skew the 
membership of Congress even further in the direction of a 
social and economic elite.'' How many potential citizen-
legislators would sell a family business or cut short a 
promising career in the private sector in order to run for 
Congress if they knew that term limits would prevent or impede 
the possibility of devoting a career to public service? Some, 
perhaps. But under a system of term limits, it is all the more 
likely that candidates would be independently wealthy persons 
who could afford the luxury of dabbling in politics for a 
    Fifth, insofar as term limits are designed to respond to a 
perceived problem of legislators who are primarily concerned 
with advancing their own self-interest, term limits would not 
eliminate the problem but would only change its form--and for 
the worse. Under term limits, venal legislators would occupy 
themselves disproportionately with setting up a ``soft 
landing'' upon departing from public office. It seems to me 
that the public interest is far better served by having 
legislators worried about representing well their constituents' 
interests--which is very much what the prospect of seeking 
reelection operates to do.
    Sixth, a term-limits constitutional amendment would destroy 
the seniority system. By providing a clear basis for leadership 
selection, the seniority system helps keep Congress from 
splintering into a multitude of factions. As importantly, the 
seniority system has given small States, like my home State of 
Utah, a means of protecting their interests from being 
trampled. Simple mathematics makes terms limits a big risk for 
small States with small delegations.
    Seventh, it seems to me that support for term limits 
sometimes rests on a false picture of the composition of 
Congress. Congress experiences considerable turnover. In the 
104th Congress, for example, in the House of Representatives, 
there are some 250 or so Members--around 60 percent of the 
body--who have served three or fewer previous consecutive 
terms. In the Senate, nearly a third of all Senators are in 
their first term. More than half of all Senators have completed 
only one full term. And only one-fourth of all Senators have 
completed two terms. In short, the American people, through the 
ballot box, have achieved in Congress a valuable combination of 
experience and new blood.
    The fact that a proposed constitutional amendment--rather 
than a statute--is at issue aggravates all these concerns. I 
certainly believe that there are instances where decades of 
misrule make constitutional amendments necessary or appropriate 
to restore the balance struck by the Constitution. That is why 
I am the lead sponsor of the balanced-budget amendment and of 
an amendment to bar the Federal Government from imposing 
unfunded mandates on States and localities. But I believe that 
we must be wary of restructuring something as fundamental as 
the freedom of citizens to select their own representatives, 
especially where the wisdom of the Framers considered and 
rejected term limits.
    It is worth noting that term limits have been imposed by 
constitutional amendment before, and with dubious effect: the 
22d amendment, ratified in 1951, imposes on the President a 
limit of two terms in office. The 22d amendment shortchanged 
the wisdom of the American people: American voters have shown 
that they are quite capable of defeating incumbent Presidents 
whom they view as ineffective. At best, the term limits imposed 
by the 22d amendment have been unnecessary. Worse than that, 
they have been destructive in that they have weakened 
Presidents during their second terms. This experience with the 
22d amendment should provide an object lesson as we consider 
the merits of constitutionally imposed term limits on Members 
of Congress.
    Let me close by observing that I am certainly not one to 
question the ability of everyday citizens to serve effectively 
as Members of Congress. On the contrary: I myself was an 
everyday citizen, without any previous legislative experience, 
when the people of Utah first gave me the honor of representing 
them in the U.S. Senate. But the experience that I have gained 
in the interim has, I believe, made me ever more effective in 
representing them.
    I must also note that when I first ran, I defeated a 
seemingly entrenched incumbent, a Senator who had been in 
office for 18 years. As that election showed, while an 
incumbent has obvious advantages in name recognition, he also 
has vulnerabilities in his record if he has not been as 
effective as he should have been in representing his 
constituents. What that election taught me above all is to have 
faith in the voters. At bottom, it is because a term-limits 
constitutional amendment betrays a fundamental lack of faith in 
the common sense and sound judgment of the voters that I am 
distrustful of it as a remedy for the ills that have ailed our 

    Term limits are founded on the conviction that self-
government is to be preferred to government by professional 
politicians. Self-government means government by citizens who 
temporarily step out of their private lives to carry the 
people's voices to the councils of government. Self-government 
is preferred because temporary representatives know that they 
will soon return to live as private citizens, under the laws 
they pass.
    Our constitutional architects believed in self-government 
and placed their trust in citizen representatives. Seeing 
clearly that power tends to corrupt and that absolute power 
corrupts absolutely, the framers turned away from a reliance on 
noble birth or high office to place extraordinary decisions in 
ordinary hands. Private citizens are asked by our Constitution 
to take their turn representing their neighbors and communities 
and to decide what laws are essential for the common good.
    Unfortunately, today's politicians are too often careerists 
who find themselves firmly ensconced in the trappings of power. 
Surrounded by professional staffs and lobbyists, sheltered from 
the electorate by a 91 percent reelection rate, and 
disconnected from the laws they impose on ordinary citizens, 
incumbents lose touch with the constituents they serve. These 
career politicians, who relocate to Washington, D.C., who are 
separated from their neighbors, communities and districts, and 
who do not return home to live under the laws they pass, are 
not the type of legislators our founding fathers envisioned 
when they fashioned our republic.
    More than two hundred years ago, Thomas Jefferson wrote a 
friend suggesting ways that our newly drafted Constitution 
could be improved. Jefferson said three things were missing: a 
Bill of Rights, limits on the tenure of the Chief Executive, 
and term limits on Congress. Since then, we have seen 
Jefferson's first two ideas implemented; this joint resolution 
embraces his last.

                 historical foundation for term limits

    Term limits accompanied the emergence of democracy in 
ancient Greece and Rome in the form of rotation in office. 
Aristotle recommended short terms for officeholders, a 
restriction on holding the same office twice, and the rule of 
``all over each and each in turn over all.'' Aristotle argued 
that the principle of rotation would increase participation and 
educate citizens in the responsibilities of public life. He 
added that term limits would restrict the amount of power that 
any one person could have, thus forcing government to work for 
the good of the majority instead of the powerful few.
    Rotation was practiced in ancient Athens where people were 
selected by lot to participate in the 500-member governing 
council. In order to participate, the people of Athens agreed 
never to serve on the council for more than two years in their 
lifetime. In the Roman system, rotation in office was used to 
ensure equitable service among all qualified candidates. 
Rotation was guaranteed because no Roman was allowed to hold 
the same office more than once.
    A legendary example of rotation in office occurred when 
Cincinnatus was appointed Dictator of Rome in order to rescue a 
consular army that was surrounded by the Aequi on Mt. Algidus. 
At the time of his appointment he was working a small farm. He 
is said to have defeated the enemy in a single day and 
celebrated the triumph in Rome. Yet, Cincinnatus maintained his 
authority only long enough to bring Rome through the emergency. 
He then resigned and returned to his farm.
    These historical examples of rotation in office had a 
profound effect on revolutionary America. When the Founders 
began crafting our democracy they included term limits in the 
Articles of Confederation and incorporated it into the original 
Virginia Plan for the Constitution. Despite its popularity, 
mandatory rotation was dropped from the Constitution, a fact 
often misconstrued by term limits opponents as a repudiation of 
the principle of rotation. Examination of the debate at the 
Constitutional Convention, however, suggests that the framers 
did not include term limits in the final draft of the 
Constitution because it was widely assumed that Members would 
rotate out of office voluntarily and frequently. It was 
commonly believed that under Article I, Section 3 of the 
Constitution, one-third of the Senate would ``go out'' every 
two years. Alexander Hamilton, an opponent of mandatory 
rotation, described the workings of the Senate as follows: 
``One third of them are to go out at the end of two years, two 
thirds at four years, and the whole at six years.'' In other 
words, term limits were viewed as unnecessary because the whole 
Senate would be changed every six years.
    The Founders' actions following ratification of the 
Constitution confirm their commitment to term limits. Offered a 
position paramount to king following the defeat of England, 
General George Washington felt morally obligated to return to 
his life as a private citizen. Even after serving as the 
nation's first President, Washington still believed that 
rotation in office was a moral obligation consistent with the 
ideals of a republican government. While in office, Washington 
wrote, ``The spirit of the government may render a rotation in 
the elected officers * * * most congenial with the ideas of 
liberty and safety.''
    The Senate responded in a similar manner. In the 36 years 
following ratification of the Constitution, the average length 
of service for Senators was approximately 4.8 years. During 
that same period, the turnover rate in the Senate was nearly 47 
percent--greater than the one-third turnover rate predicted by 
    Some politicians remained concerned that term limits were 
not explicitly included in the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson 
frequently argued that term limitation was a way ``to prevent 
every danger which might arise to American freedom by 
continuing too long in office.'' When the Constitution was 
finalized, Jefferson stated, ``One thing I dislike, and greatly 
dislike, is the abandonment in every instance of the necessity 
of rotation in office.''
    Unfortunately Jefferson's words proved prophetic. The 
Founders' adherence to the principles of rotation has given way 
to a political culture marred by stagnation, continuous 
campaigns and disproportionately influential special interests.

                           demise of rotation

    In the century following the ratification of the 
Constitution, the republican philosophy of rotation in office 
was respected and practiced. At its peak, rotation in office 
was so widely accepted in American politics that, without 
mandated term limits, Congress experienced a 76 percent 
turnover in 1842. On average, nearly one-third of the Members 
of Congress voluntarily retired from office between 1789 and 
1900. Among those adhering to the principle of rotation was a 
young Illinois Congressman, Abraham Lincoln. After serving one 
term in Congress, Lincoln returned to Illinois. As President, 
Lincoln chastised those resisting rotation in office when he 
stated: ``If our American society and United States Government 
are overthrown, it will come from the voracious desire for 
office, this wriggle to live without toil, work, and labor--
from which I am not free myself.''
    Unfortunately, rotation in office and the voluntary return 
to private life fell out of favor in the twentieth century. 
Instead of leaving office to return to live under the laws they 
made, Members became more likely to remain ensconced in their 
sheltered public lives. Enticed to stay by a system that 
distributes power based on seniority rather than merit, and 
bolstered financially by special interests and PAC's, 
incumbents have come to enjoy a seven or eight point advantage 
over their opponents. As a result, since the early 1900's the 
average number of Members voluntarily leaving office dipped 
below 10 percent, and the average number of incumbent election 
victories soared above 90 percent. Even in 1994, a supposedly 
revolutionary year, over 91 percent of all incumbents won their 
bids for reelection.

                         dangers of stagnation

    Without turnover, politicians become entrenched and 
stagnant. That stagnation is antithetical to the ideals of a 
republican government and a representative citizen legislature. 
Fresh ideas give way to reliance on lobbyists and special 
interests. Allegiance to the district or the State gives way to 
allegiance to campaign donors. Understanding the difficulty of 
living under burdensome regulations gives way to the belief 
that more regulations are needed. Fiscal responsibility and 
good public policy give way to a commerce of special projects.
    Studies have shown that the longer Members remain in 
office, the more resources they spend. A study conducted by the 
nonpartisan National Taxpayers Union found that if term limits 
were in place during the 103rd Congress, Republican Senators 
would have voted for 21.3 percent more spending cuts. Likewise, 
term limited Democrats would have voted for fewer spending 
    The vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment shows a similar 
trend. Despite its popularity with the American public, the 
amendment failed to pass the Senate. The voting record reveals 
that among Members serving more than twelve years in office, 
42.2 percent voted against the measure. In contrast, only 27.3 
percent of those serving less than twelve years opposed the 
    The ability of long-term incumbents to defeat responsible 
legislation is not a recent phenomenon. After the turn of the 
century, perpetual incumbents secured their seats by 
disenfranchising voters and gerrymandering districts. The 
resulting sparse turnover allowed groups of politicians to form 
cohesive voting blocks which defeated race related legislation 
until the mid-1960's. Protected from competitive elections, 
incumbents stopped anti-lynching legislation (1935, 1937), 
anti-poll tax measures (1942, 1944, 1946), nondiscriminatory 
educational funding (1943), appropriations for the Committee on 
Fair Employment Practice (1945, 1950), civil rights provisions 
(1960), and literacy tests (1962). Not until the civil rights 
movement exploded in the 1960's, culminating in the passage of 
the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, were 
these entrenched incumbents defeated on the issue of race.
    What these votes demonstrate is that entrenched incumbents 
who spend too much time in Washington eventually lose touch 
with the will of the people. Rotation in office prevents the 
alienation of Members of Congress by involving more of the 
citizenry in the legislative process, both as legislators and 
voters, and by bringing new ideas, forged with the experience 
of living a private life, to the government.
    Without term limits, there is less opportunity for common 
citizens to participate in the government of this country. 
Without term limits, there remains a fear that Members of 
Congress will become so safe in their seats that they will 
resemble a ruling class rather than a citizen legislature. It 
is essential to liberty and participatory democracy that our 
legislators be rotated out of office regularly to live under 
their own commands.

                          advancing democracy

    Opponents of term limits argue that term limits threaten 
democracy by limiting voter choice. This is a hollow argument. 
Term limits promote democracy by opening up the system to 
participation from all segments of the population, which in 
turn creates a truly representative and democratic government.
    To take just one example, Congress remains largely the 
domain of white males. Although women account for 51 percent of 
the population, only 11 percent of House seats and 8 percent of 
Senate seats are held by women. Similarly, racial minorities 
make up over 25 percent of the general population but only 14 
percent of the House seats and 5 percent of the Senate seats.
    Term limits might be especially useful in enhancing the 
opportunities of women and minorities to win elections by 
increasing the number of competitive congressional seats. 
Statistics show that more women and racial minorities are 
elected to Congress through open seat races than by challenging 
incumbents. Over 87 percent of African-Americans in the House, 
and 83 percent of Hispanics, were elected in open seat races. 
Among female Members of Congress, 79 percent were elected in 
open seat races. These numbers demonstrate that the turnover 
created by term limits will help generate a more representative 
and democratic federal government.
    Term limits will promote democracy by opening the governing 
process to all genders and races, and create more competitive 
races by guaranteeing more open seats. With term limits come 
greater opportunities for a truly participatory and 
representative government.

                       giving the people a choice

    Currently, thirty-five States impose limits on the number 
of terms their governors and State legislators may serve. 
Twenty-three States have also applied term limits to their 
representatives in the U.S. House and Senate. In twenty-one of 
these States, ballot initiatives imposing term limits passed 
with average support exceeding 64 percent. Polling suggests 
that as many as 75 percent of Americans nation-wide support 
term limits. Already, 24 million Americans have cast their 
votes for term limits, and Mississippi voters are scheduled to 
consider a ballot initiative to limit congressional terms in 
November of 1995.
    Contrary to the desire of millions of Americans, however, 
federal term limit laws were struck down by the United States 
Supreme Court earlier this year in U.S. Term Limits. Inc. et 
al. v. Thornton. In one fell swoop, the Supreme Court denied 
the people and the States the right to determine their own 
government and limit congressional terms. The only hope that 
remains for term limits is a constitutional amendment. We owe 
it to the people to pass S.J. Res. 21 and give them a chance to 
support or reject term limits.
    Every argument against term limits and in favor of 
business-as-usual has one thing in common: Arrogance. To oppose 
term limits is to decide what is best for the people without 
letting them decide for themselves. To oppose term limits is to 
assume that the people are not capable of making their own 
decisions about their government. Opponents of term limits 
argue that it will harm the political process or turn away 
outstanding Members of Congress or deny voter choice. These 
arguments founder on the most basic point: it is the people's 
choice, and they will make it. Our government is a democratic 
one in which the will of the people is what matters most. To 
protect the people or decide what is best for them undermines 
this basic principle of self-government.
    We are not now deciding to amend the Constitution. Congress 
does not have the power to amend the Constitution. Congress 
does have the power to propose the amendment to the people and 
the States. The vote on term limits is simply that: a vote to 
allow the people, through their representatives, to decide on 
term limits. Casting a vote against term limits denies the 
people the right to determine their own government. All S.J. 
Res. 21 asks Senators to do is send this measure to the States 
where the people can decide for themselves.

                           political courage

    One reason the people seek term limits is they perceive a 
stunning lack of political courage in Washington. In their 
eyes, Congress cannot even vote to balance the government 
checkbook. There is the feeling that time and time again, 
Congress is faced with basic problems and Congress cannot solve 
those basic problems.
    Americans faithfully pay their taxes, fall victim to crime, 
and lose jobs as needless regulations strangle American 
businesses. It is inconceivable to many Americans that Congress 
allows these things to continue. To many Americans, the system 
is broken. The difficult vote to end wasteful programs is not 
cast because reelection depends on helping some special 
interest. Without term limits, there may never be the political 
courage to solve the nation's most difficult problems.
    Term limits offer that political courage. Term limits would 
enable Members of Congress to make the right decision, as 
opposed to the decision that brings in more PAC money. Term 
limits do not threaten good government decision-making. In 
fact, term limits would improve the willingness of Members of 
Congress to perform their tasks and attend to important 
    In testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on 
Constitution, Federalism and Property Rights, former Tennessee 
Governor Lamar Alexander stated that during his second of two 
terms he was:

        * * * a little braver, a little more concerned about 
        whether at the end of eight years I would have been 
        able to accomplish something useful for my State rather 
        than to worry about whether what I was trying to 
        accomplish might have helped me get reelected yet to a 
        third term.

    Asked at the same January 25, 1995, Subcommittee hearing 
whether he believed term limits would encourage legislators to 
ignore their more tedious responsibilities, Senator John 
Ashcroft, former Governor of Missouri, answered:

          I lived under term limits as governor * * * and I do 
        not think the reality suggests that individuals fail 
        substantially in their service to their States at such 
        times. * * * I do not think the facts reflect that 
        individuals who are in their last terms abandon their 

    As President John F. Kennedy said, ``[t]he desire to be re-
elected exercises a strong brake on independent courage.'' In 
our Governors mansions and State legislatures, term limits are 
proving that they can help restore the courage needed to cast 
the difficult vote and govern this nation effectively.


    When Senators and Representatives come to Washington they 
vow to represent the people of their State or district. The 
time has come to support the will of the people and deliver a 
term limits constitutional amendment to the States. With over 
24 million people voting for term limits in local ballot 
initiatives, and national polls showing strong and continuous 
support for the issue, it is Congress' duty to represent the 
people and restore the principle of a citizen legislature.
    History has shown that term limits are consistent with the 
basic principles of democracy. For over a century, our Founders 
understood the virtue of limiting government service and 
leaving public life to live under the laws they passed. That is 
no longer the case. Today's politicians are too often motivated 
by power rather than public service, influenced by special 
interests rather than constituents, and more concerned with 
pleasing the right people rather than casting the tough vote.
    If we believe in the foundation of our democracy, if we 
believe in the concept of a citizen legislature, and if we 
believe that Senators and Representatives are the servants of 
the people, we must pass S.J. Res. 21, send it to the people, 
and give them the choice of whether to impose term limits on 

    I agree that the Congress should propose an amendment to 
the Constitution on term limits. I support the joint resolution 
that the Committee has reported out. But I would prefer a 
different resolution.
    In my view it is within the States' powers right now to 
limit the terms of Members of Congress. I believe that is what 
our present Constitution, properly understood, provides. 
Moreover, many States have exercised that power. My own State, 
Michigan, for example, has adopted a limit of two terms for the 
Senate and three terms for the House of Representatives.
    Unfortunately, my view that the States presently have this 
power is shared only by four Justices of the Supreme Court. The 
other five recently concluded otherwise. See U.S. Term Limits 
v. Thornton, 115 S. Ct. 1842 (1995). Accordingly, some 
corrective action by Congress is necessary to restore term 
limits as a viable political option. The only action we can 
take that we can be confident the Court will not strike down is 
the adoption of some form of constitutional amendment.
    My preference would be for a constitutional amendment that 
simply returns the power to set term limits for Members of 
Congress to the States. Because Congressional term limits are 
an innovation, I would prefer to allow the States to experiment 
with them rather than freezing them, or freezing them in a 
particular form, into our federal Constitution. I also believe 
that if Michigan prefers one formula for limiting terms and 
other States prefer a different formula, we should not preclude 
any State from picking its preferred version. Accordingly, my 
first choice would be for a resolution along the lines of S.J. 
Res. 36, proposed by Senator Ashcroft, of which I am an 
original cosponsor along with several other Members of this 
    The joint resolution approved by the Committee is to me a 
less preferable but acceptable choice. I have no objection to 
the limits in the joint resolution (although if we in Congress 
must pick specific limits, I would prefer that they be 
consistent with the ones adopted by my home State, which is why 
I voted against Senator Kyl's amendment to substitute the 
limits presently in the bill for those in Senator Thompson's 
original proposal). But I would prefer to see the States remain 
free to select others. Therefore while I will support final 
passage of this measure if it remains the only vehicle for 
addressing term limits, on the floor I will seek to have other 
approaches considered that will leave the States with more 
authority to establish their own limits.\1\
    \1\ In addition, while I agree with the arguments against the Leahy 
amendment set out in the report, I also opposed it for the additional 
reason that the question it seeks to resolve, whether current terms 
should count for purposes of the limits, is a matter that I would also 
prefer to leave to the States.

    In Philadelphia in 1787, the delegates to the 
Constitutional Convention rejected term limits on Members of 
Congress. As was noted in the Minority Report, the Founding 
Fathers viewed term limits as ``pernicious'' and ``ill-
founded'' in and of themselves. But, more than that, the 
Framers also crafted a legislative branch of government to 
which term limits were not conducive. Indeed, term limits would 
have undermined the work of the Framers and would have been 
contrary to one of the basic premises of their product: the 
protection of the rights of small States.
    When the Constitutional Convention was deadlocked over the 
issue of representation in Congress--with large States 
supporting proportional representation and small States 
supporting equal representation--Benjamin Franklin and the 
delegates from Connecticut crafted the ``Connecticut 
Compromise.'' Under this proposal, membership in the House of 
Representatives would be based on population, thus protecting 
the interests of the large States, and membership in the Senate 
would be based on strict equality, thus protecting the rights 
of small States. Without this compromise, the Convention would 
probably have disbanded after it had barely begun.
    What is significant to this debate, however, is not only 
what happened--but what it meant. Explicit in the Connecticut 
Compromise is an equal vote for small States. But, implicit in 
the Connecticut Compromise is equal power for small States.
    An equal vote in the Senate does not ipso facto translate 
into equal power in Congress. Even though all States have two 
votes in the Senate regardless of size, large States can still 
exercise tremendous control. Today, a majority of the American 
people live in and a majority of Members of Congress come from 
just nine States. Two of those nine States border on my own 
State of Delaware. I admire my friends from New Jersey and 
Pennsylvania, but when it comes to the interests of the State 
of Delaware, I heed the words of Gunning Bedford, one of 
Delaware's delegates to the Constitutional Convention: ``I do 
not, gentlemen, trust you.''
    James Madison knew about trust; he acknowledged that 
average legislators pursued their own State's interests. And, 
the Founders uniformly feared that a majority of people united 
by some passion or by their own interests could run roughshod 
over the rights and interests of a minority. So, the implicit 
check and balance created by the Founders to prevent the 
possible abuse of small States--the minority--by a few large 
States--the majority--was the ability of small States to wield 
power and influence through senior Members of Congress. In 
other words, by allowing States--at the discretion of the 
electorate--to reelect incumbents. Term limits would render 
that ability nugatory and would drive a stake through the heart 
of the Connecticut Compromise.
    The people of the State of Delaware, just 700,000 of them--
the fifth smallest State--have an interesting little tradition: 
if they do not like you, they throw you out. It may seem to 
some a novel concept, but it's known as the power of the ballot 
box, and it is the ultimate limit on congressional terms. At 
the same time, however, the people of Delaware also have 
another tradition--one that comes from a 200-year history as 
one of the smallest States in the Union. Long ago, Delawareans 
recognized that a small State gains equality with larger States 
by reelecting its incumbents and benefiting from their 
seniority. To deny that right--to impose artificial term 
limits--is to tell the people of Delaware that someone else 
knows better than them; that someone else can better decide 
what is in their interests; that their rights and interests 
will be at the whim of the larger States.
    I join the Founding Fathers in categorically rejecting that 
proposition. Delawareans were entrusted by the Constitution to 
look out for the interests of Delaware. And, if they, in their 
infinite wisdom, decide that reelecting an incumbent is the 
best way to protect their rights and interests, they should 
continue to be allowed to do so.
                   XV. ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF MR. LEAHY

    I oppose this constitutional amendment. The Constitution 
does not set congressional term limits, trusting to the people 
to decide who will best represent them. Indeed, this proposal 
is, in essence, a limitation on the rights of the electorate. I 
reject it as such.
    I urge my colleagues not to be afraid to do the right 
thing, even if it does not appear from certain polls to be the 
currently popular thing, and stop demagoguing constitutional 
amendments as the cure to our ills. Our Constitution has served 
us well, over more than 200 years. It is the cornerstone of our 
vibrant democracy. It has been amended only 17 times since the 
adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1791--and two of those were 
prohibition and its repeal.
    The Constitution is now under attack. The fundamental 
protections of separation of powers and the first amendment are 
under siege. In the opening days of this Congress almost 100 
constitutional amendments have been introduced. The Judiciary 
Committee has already voted to report three. We risk making a 
mockery of Article V's requirement that we deem a 
constitutional amendment ``necessary'' before proposing it to 
the States.
    One way to consider the impact of this proposed amendment 
is to look at who would not be here currently were this two-
term limit already part of the Constitution. The two-term limit 
contained in S.J. Res. 21 would eliminate all of us who have 
been returned to the Senate by our constituents after standing 
for reelection more than once.
    Think for a moment what imposing such a limitation would 
mean to the Senate. For example, are Senators Thurmond, 
Hatfield, Stevens, Roth, Domenici, Chafee, Lugar, Kassebaum, 
Cochran, Simpson and Hatch, and Senators Byrd, Pell, Kennedy, 
Inouye, Hollings, Nunn, Glenn, Ford, Bumpers, Moynihan, 
Sarbanes, Biden and others not possessed of judgment and 
experience on which we all rely and on which their constituents 
depend? What of the majority leader, Senator Dole, should he 
have had to retire in 1980 after serving only two terms?
    Consider what this type of measure would have meant over 
our history. Those who have served beyond two terms include 
among their ranks some of our most distinguished predecessors. 
Each of our Senate Office Buildings, in fact, is named for a 
Senator whose service would have been cut short by the type of 
term limit being proposed as a constitutional amendment: 
Richard Russell, Philip Hart, Everett McKinley Dirksen. It is a 
loss when illness takes such leaders from us; it would be a 
tragedy to have denied the country and their constituents their 
service through an arbitrary rule limiting congressional terms.
    Think about Kentucky's Henry Clay; South Carolina's John C. 
Calhoun; Missouri's Thomas Hart Benton; Ohio's Robert Taft; 
Iowa's William Allison; Michigan's Arthur Vandenberg; Arizona's 
Carl Hayden and Barry Goldwater; Maine's Margaret Chase Smith 
and George Mitchell; Vermont's Justin Morrill and George Aiken; 
Massachusetts' Daniel Webster and Charles Sumner; Montana's 
Mike Mansfield; Washington's Scoop Jackson; North Carolina's 
Sam Ervin; Arkansas's William Fulbright; New York's Jacob 
Javits; Wisconsin's William Proxmire and the LaFollettes; 
Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey; Tennessee's Howard Baker, Jr. 
Such lists invariably leave out many who distinguished 
themselves through their service into a third Senate term.
    Voters have not had any trouble electing challengers in the 
last several years. In 1978, 1980, and 1986, numbers of 
incumbents were defeated in primaries and general elections for 
the U.S. Senate. From the last election, one-third of those 
elected to the Senate are serving in their first terms. In the 
House of Representatives fully one-third of the Members are 
beginning their first or second terms. The electorate does not 
seem to have a problem deciding whom to elect and whom not to 
    Indeed, rather than debating a constitutional amendment to 
impose term limits, our time might be better spent thinking 
about why more and more of our respected colleagues are 
choosing to abandon this body. Our friend from Colorado, the 
chairman of the Constitution subcommittee, has already 
announced that he will not seek reelection in 1996, after five 
terms in the House but only one here in the Senate. The senior 
Senator from Illinois, the Ranking Democrat on the Constitution 
subcommittee, has also announced that he will not seek 
reelection after five terms in the House and two terms here in 
the Senate. A number of others have announced similar 
    Last year, George Mitchell and a total of nine of our 
colleagues in the 103d Congress chose not to seek reelection. 
The Congress has become less and less a place where Members 
choose to run for reelection.
    I respect my colleagues for doing what they think is right 
for themselves and their families. I commend those who like 
Hank Brown and our freshman colleagues believe strongly in term 
limits and conform their own actions to that rule. I urge them, 
however, to stop short of seeking to impose their view on all 
others and upon all other States for all time by way of this 
constitutional amendment.
    The reality is that this is an institution that is called 
upon to deal with many important and complex matters, where 
judgment and experience do count for something. Some sense of 
history and some expertise can, from time to time, be helpful 
in confronting our tasks and fulfilling our responsibilities to 
our constituents and the country. Thus, I do not believe that a 
one-size-fits-all limit on congressional service makes sense.
    Further, as the representative of a small State, I am 
acutely aware that we fulfill the purposes of the Senate and 
sometimes best represent our States when we have a bit of 
seniority and a track record on the issues. I believe, as did 
our Founders, that it is up to the people to let us know if we 
seek to overstay our term of service.
    Before we embark on this course to rewrite the work of the 
Founders and impose an artificial limit on the length of 
congressional service, we should know what evil this 
constitutional amendment is intended to reach. On this the 
proponents speak in conflicting voices--some urging that term 
limits will make us more responsive to the electorate and 
others arguing that it will give us greater distance and 
independence from them. Which is it?
    It is remarkable that while the majority has taken eight 
months to report the Judiciary Committee's February 9 action, 
it nowhere discusses--let alone justifies--the specific 
congressional term limits it seeks to impose. The sole hearing 
into this matter was focussed in large part on proponents 
arguing that a six-term limit for the House was ``no limit at 
all'' and that to include such a provision in this measure 
amounted to ``phony term limits,'' since 12 years is longer 
than the average term of service in the House. Nowhere in its 
long-delayed report does the majority hint at the controversy 
surrounding this key, substantive amendment to this measure 
that doubled the House term limits from three to six terms. Nor 
does it indicate that it would invalidate limits adopted in 
over 20 states.
    Further, the majority gives no consideration to the 
effectiveness of limiting terms of only one group of actors in 
our political democracy. Will we also limit the tenure of 
professional staff? Will we limit the number of years someone 
may lobby the Congress? Why not limit the years that someone 
can serve as a political consultant, a pollster, or an adviser? 
Are we prepared to venture into campaign reform and limit the 
number of times a person may contribute to Senate races over 
time? If not, term limits on candidates will only serve to 
increase the influence of these other groups at the expense of 
the people.
    Do we expect first-term Senators intent on reelection to be 
less responsive to lobbyists and political consultants? For 
those who succeed in being reelected to a second and final 
term, will they be oblivious of the need to earn a living in 
succeeding years? With no prospect for a career in public 
service, Members of Congress may become more solicitous of 
``special interests'' as they look beyond their lame-duck 
status to new career opportunities.
    Despite good intentions, this proposed constitutional 
amendment would not give us a citizen-legislature but, instead, 
a legislature made up of those independently wealthy and 
capable of taking 12 years from building a career outside this 
body to serve for a time.
    I must oppose what I perceive to be a growing fascination 
with laying waste to our Constitution and the protections that 
have served us well for over 200 years. The first amendment, 
separation of powers, the power of the purse, the right of the 
people to elect their representatives should be supported and 
defended. That is the oath that we all swore when we entered 
this public service. That is our duty to those who forged this 
great document, our commitment to our constituents and our 
legacy to those who will succeed us.
    The Constitution should not be amended by sound bite. This 
proposed limitation evidences a distrust not just of 
congressional representatives but of those who sent us here, 
the people. Term limits would restrict the freedom of the 
electorate to choose and are based on disdain for their 
unfettered judgment. These are not so much term limits as 
limits on the electorate to choose their representatives.
    To those who argue that this proposal will embolden us or 
provide us added independence because we will not be concerned 
about reelection, I would argue that you are turning our 
democracy on its head. This proposal has the effect of 
eliminating accountability, not increasing it.
    It is precisely when we stand for reelection that the 
people, our constituents, have the opportunity to hold us 
accountable. This proposal would eliminate that accountability 
by removing opportunities for the people to reaffirm or reject 
our representation of them. It would make each of us a lame 
duck immediately upon reelection.
    Thus, my fundamental objection to the proposed 
constitutional amendment is this: It is, at base, distrustful 
of the electorate. It does not limit candidates so much as it 
limits the rights of the people to choose whoever they want to 
represent them. We should be acting to legislate more 
responsively and responsibly, not to close off elections by 
making some candidates off limits to voters. I will put my 
faith in the people of Vermont and keep faith with them to 
uphold the Constitution.

                            leahy amendment

    When this matter reaches the Senate for debate, I intend to 
offer an amendment, along the lines of the one that I offered 
during the course of the Judiciary Committee's deliberations. I 
will try to move us toward an honest discussion of what this 
amendment would mean and what impact it would have on Congress. 
When politicians talk about imposing term limits, they tend to 
support proposals that, on examination, will not affect them. 
Thus, I have pointed out that S.J. Res. 21 is drafted so as not 
to affect adversely any of us.
    This proposal is designed to become effective after the 
ratification process, which may itself take 7 years. 
Thereafter, and only thereafter, are we to start counting terms 
in office for purposes of these constitutional term limits. 
Thus, this proposal is drafted so that some of us can get in 
two more successful reelection campaigns before we have even to 
start counting terms toward the two-term limit. I suspect that 
all of us expect to be ``former'' Senators in 2020 after as 
many as four more terms, anyway. That is all that this 
amendment contemplates.
    By contrast, my amendment will have the effect of making 
these constitutionally mandated congressional term limits apply 
to each of us immediately upon ratification. Thus, the two-term 
limit would apply to each of us then currently serving. Those 
of us serving in our second term, or greater, would be able to 
serve out the remainder of that term. Those in their first term 
in the Senate at the time of ratification would be able to run 
for reelection, once.
    As I noted in the course of the Judiciary Committee's 
deliberations, my amendment would conform the congressional 
term-limits amendment to the transition rule adopted in the 22d 
amendment, which imposed term limits on the President. The 22d 
amendment provides that it would ``not prevent any person who 
may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, 
during the term within which this Article becomes operative 
from holding the office of President or acting as President 
during the remainder of such term.'' The 22d amendment did not 
say that the President serving at the time of ratification 
could be elected to two more, 4-year terms. It is noteworthy 
that this precedent continues to be ignored by the majority.
    As reported, S.J. Res. 21 includes language in section 3 
intended to provide special privileges to those Members who are 
serving at the time of ratification. Thus, all prior and 
current service is to be disregarded and Members serving at the 
time of ratification are to be accorded the prospect of two 
additional 6-year Senate terms and six additional 2-year House 
terms, regardless of the number of prior terms in the Senate or 
House. Rather than have the constitutional amendment 
eligibility limitations apply to everyone, S.J. Res. 21 is 
drafted so that Members serving at the time of ratification 
would be accorded the special privilege of being able to 
complete their current terms and then start over, counting from 
zero, with respect to elections and service toward term limits. 
This is, in the words of a member of the committee who voted in 
favor of the constitutional amendment, ``transparent 
    A few examples indicate the unfairness of these special 

   Senators elected after ratification would be locked 
        into inferior status in terms of seniority, 
        chairmanships, committee assignments and staff 
        allocations. By contrast, Senators serving now and at 
        the time of ratification would have their seniority 
        preserved and protected.
   A Senator elected 1 day before ratification would be 
        able to serve three full 6-year terms before the limits 
        took effect.
   A Senator first elected in 1990 could run for 
        reelection to a second term in 1996, run successfully 
        for a third term in 2002, see the ratification process 
        subsequently completed in 2003, finish out the third 
        term in 2008 and still be reelected to two more full 
        terms through 2020 before being affected by any term 
        limits. At the same time a new Senator first elected in 
        2004 would be restricted to two terms and be barred 
        from serving past 2016. Thus, the older Senator would 
        be able to serve 4 years past the forced retirement of 
        the newer and for a total of 18 years more than the 
        newer Senator.

    Senators voting for the amendment ought to be willing to 
bind themselves to its terms and not just to bind others who 
follow in their footsteps.
    The amendment I will propose to the Senate will strike 
section 3 and its language excluding elections and service 
occurring before final ratification from the calculation of the 
term limits being imposed. Instead, the amendment will 
expressly provide that the term limits being imposed by the 
constitutional amendment would apply to Members serving at 
    In order to avoid a retroactive effect or canceling the 
results of a completed election, the amendment will allow 
Members serving at the time of ratification to complete their 
current term. The prohibition in the proposed constitutional 
amendment would then operate prospectively to forbid any Member 
serving a term at or beyond the term limit being imposed from 
seeking reelection.
    The amendment will also be intended to remove the ambiguity 
created by language included in section 1, which begins: 
``After this article becomes operative, no person * * *.'' 
Unless stricken, this language might be interpreted to exempt 
Members of Congress serving before ratification from the effect 
of the constitutional amendment entirely. At the least, the 
language implies that the eligibility of those Members of 
Congress serving at ratification is intended to be determined 
by consciously disregarding their current and past elections 
and service.
    Unless stricken, this language could create a special class 
of Members and grant them special privilege from the full 
effect of the constitutional amendment at the moment that it is 
ratified. The irony is that many of the very Members who vote 
to impose term limits on others elected in the future would 
secure for themselves special dispensation so that they may 
serve either an unlimited number of terms or as many terms as 
can be begun before final ratification plus an additional two 
terms in the Senate and an additional six terms in the House.
    The effect on my amendment will be that upon ratification 
of this constitutional amendment to impose congressional term 
limits, our current terms of service will be considered. This 
is in keeping with the substance of the amendment and would 
give it full effect upon ratification, rather than waiting for 
another 12 to as many as 20 years before it takes effect. If 
constitutionally mandated congressional term limits are 
necessary to solve an important problem, then why should the 
amendment to the Constitution exclude the very situation that 
it is being proposed to correct? We should not provide 
ourselves with special privileges and adopt rules for the next 
generation of Members. Exempting ourselves from the full 
effects of this amendment is not any way to proceed, if it is 
the will of the Congress and the States that we should proceed.

    Our opposition to S.J. Res. 21 stems in large part from our 
belief that a constitutional term-limits amendment is totally 
contrary to our democratic system of government.
    We already have term limits--they're called elections. We 
agree with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, who 
has indicated that any proposal to take away the right the 
voters now have to elect whom they choose for Congress betrays 
a basic mistrust of the electorate, and cannot be reconciled 
with our most basic notions of representative democracy. We 
have a fundamental objection to any proposal that would lump 
together artificially those public servants that deserve 
continued reelection by the people, and those that do not. We 
have faith that the public will not permit this latter category 
of representative to survive too long in Congress.
    At the same time, we are aware of the disillusionment and 
frustration that citizens sometimes feel toward the electoral 
process, and are the first to admit that this process needs to 
be fixed. We believe the answer to the failings of the 
political process lies in meaningful campaign finance reform--
in legislation that eliminates the advantages held by 
incumbents in our current system of campaign financing, not in 
a constitutional term-limits amendment.
    Not only do we believe that term limits are contrary to 
democracy; we also believe that they would be harmful to 
Congress as an institution.
    First, a limitation on the number of years a representative 
can serve would deprive Congress and the Nation of much insight 
and knowledge. This country has been enriched by the continued 
efforts and extended service of such men as Henry Clay, Daniel 
Webster, Everett Dirksen, Henry Jackson, Jake Pickle, Morris 
Udall, Howard Baker, Sam Ervin, and Sam Rayburn. Our Nation 
would not have been as great had these men been forced to leave 
Congress prematurely. The Founding Fathers recognized this very 
point. In The Federalist #62, attributed to James Madison, they 
warned against--and did not, as the proponents of term limits 
suggest, endorse--rapid rotation in office, deeming 
``mutability in the public councils arising from a rapid 
succession of new Members'' to be ``inconsistent with every 
rule of prudence and every prospect of success.''
    Second, term limits would result in a fundamental shift in 
the balance of power from the Congress to the President. A 
Congress of citizen legislators, deprived of the expertise and 
service of veteran members, would by its nature be more pliable 
and deferential to the President, and would suffer a decrease 
in stature and effectiveness. Ironically, the cynicism that now 
motivates the call for term limits would simply lead to even 
greater cynicism as the institution of Congress faded relative 
to the other political branch of government.
    Third, contrary to the arguments of term-limits advocates, 
we do not believe that term limits would lead to the emergence 
of a ``disinterested'' and more representative--that is, a 
``better''--legislature. Rather, a Congress made up of term-
limited Members would be: (a) inexperienced; (b) heavily 
reliant on Washington ``insiders'' such as congressional staff 
and lobbyists; and (c) either more concerned about seeking job 
opportunities for their post-congressional years than about 
serving the country or sufficiently wealthy to be able, in the 
words of Congressman Hyde, ``to devote their most productive 
and creative years to a vocation with no tenure and whose only 
prospect is enforced retirement.'' The greatest incentive to 
good behavior and honorable service in the U.S. Congress is 
one's regular accountability to the voters, not one's freedom 
from that accountability. As Alexander Hamilton stated in The 
Federalist #72 (emphasis in original):

          There are few men who would not feel much less zeal 
        in the discharge of a duty when they were conscious 
        that the advantage of the station with which it was 
        connected must be relinquished at a determinate period, 
        than when they were permitted to entertain a hope of 
        obtaining, by meriting, a continuance of them.

    In support of a term-limits amendment, the majority cites 
the old adage that ``power corrupts and absolute power corrupts 
absolutely.'' While the adage is no doubt true, it can hardly 
support a measure to limit the service of individuals who (1) 
stand for reelection once every 6 years and once every 2 years, 
respectively; (2) belong to bodies that number 100 and 435, 
respectively; and (3) belong to one of three coordinate 
branches of government in a constitutional system founded on 
the principle of separation of powers. As noted before, if 
anything, congressional term limits increase the power of one 
individual--the Chief Executive--and create an even greater 
possibility of abuse of power than exists under the current 
    Clearly, the Founding Fathers were intimately familiar with 
arguments in favor of term limits--however, they rejected the 
idea, the advantages of which they determined to be ``at best 
speculative and equivocal'' and ``overbalanced by disadvantages 
far more certain and decisive.'' Alexander Hamilton, The 
Federalist #72. This assessment of term limits rings as true 
today as it did over 200 years ago, and the Committee Report on 
S.J. Res. 21 provides not one single compelling reason why we 
should reject the wisdom of the Founders in this area. Indeed, 
the best argument the proponents of S.J. Res. 21 can muster is 
that a term limits amendment has popular support. But as 
Senator McConnell, an ardent opponent of term limits, has 
written, ``[t]hat [argument] begs the question: What other 
constitutional amendments would be popular? The abolition of 
all federal taxes comes to mind. How about suspension of all 
civil rights for violent criminals?'' McConnell, 
``Representation Without Limitation,'' The Washington Post, 
March 23, 1995, page A27. As Senator McConnell rightly 
concludes, ``term limits should be judged on the merits, not 
popularity,'' ibid, and on the merits S.J. Res. 21 fails.
    We already have significant turnover in both Houses of 
Congress: over 50 percent of the House of Representatives has 
been elected since 1990, and 55 Senators have been elected 
since 1984. In the last 15 years, we have also witnessed a 
change in control of one or another House of Congress no less 
than four times. Clearly, consistent with the Framers' intent, 
and with our most cherished notions of representative 
democracy, the voters have spoken and will continue to speak, 
if we let them. We must let them, and must not add to the 
cynicism toward government that is all too rampant today.

    I write to express my support for congressional term limits 
and to express my disappointment that the committee rejected 
Senator Leahy's critical amendment, which would have eliminated 
the ``grandfather clause'' that exempts sitting Members of 
Congress from the limits contemplated by S.J. Res. 21. Indeed, 
by defeating the Leahy amendment while maintaining an exemption 
for ourselves, we sent precisely the wrong message to the 
American people: that Congress is still engaging in politics as 
usual. This is not a message that any member of the Judiciary 
Committee should wish to endorse.
    In my opinion, the effort to limit congressional terms, 
embodied in S.J. Res. 21, has been prompted by a continuing 
decline in the public's trust in its governing institutions. 
This trust has been replaced by a deep and abiding cynicism. 
The prevailing view is that elected representatives are 
motivated all too often by a desire to ensure reelection, 
rather than by the sense of virtue and deliberative spirit that 
I know most of us share.
    S.J. Res. 21 has been offered to address--at least in 
part--these unfortunate sentiments. I count myself among the 
supporters of S.J. Res. 21. But we are unlikely to succeed in 
convincing the public of our good intentions when we exempt 
sitting Members of Congress from the scope of a constitutional 
term limitation. Indeed, I question how a sitting member can 
both support term limitations and claim that he ought to be 
above such a law. Yet a majority of the committee did just that 
when they defeated Senator Leahy's amendment to apply S.J. Res. 
21 to sitting Members.
    I fear that the committee's defeat of the Leahy amendment 
will be perceived as an act of hypocrisy. I have yet to hear or 
read an adequate explanation for the exemption of sitting 
Members of Congress from S.J. Res. 21, and I doubt whether a 
reasonable justification could ever be crafted. No 
representative of the people should hold himself above, or 
beyond the reach of, the very Constitution he was sworn to 
uphold. If the Constitution should be amended to limit 
congressional terms, as I believe it should, then congressional 
supporters of such an effort should muster the humility to 
accept that this principle ought to bind them, too. I deeply 
regret the defeat of the Leahy amendment.
                              AND FEINGOLD

    We live in a time when Congress is more representative than 
ever before of the rich heritage that has been the source of 
America's strength and greatness. Congress today is comprised 
of citizens with widely varied educational backgrounds, 
vocations, and economic circumstances, including automobile 
assembly workers, a jewelry maker, funeral directors, law 
enforcement officers, lawyers, a taxi-driver, ambassadors, a 
winemaker, a riverboat captain, judges, a florist, doctors, 
journalists, and teachers. Quite recently, we have also seen 
the willingness of voters to send new representatives to 
Congress in place of incumbents. In light of these facts, we 
see no reason to deny voters the right to elect an individual 
to Congress simply because of that person's previous service.
    We do not doubt that more than one modern-day Cincinnatus 
exists. We do question whether most working people can drop 
their jobs, take the time and obtain the money to run for 
office, and then easily return to their former jobs after 
government service, as the proponents of term limits seem to 
envision. We want to ensure the opportunity for the voters to 
continue to send a cross-section of American society to serve 
in Congress. If people of such varied life experiences commit 
themselves to public service in Congress and are willing to 
seek reelection after 12 years in office, the voters should not 
be denied that choice.
    The notion of term limits for Members of Congress is 
antidemocratic in the most fundamental sense. Term limits 
denies voters the opportunity to send to Congress those persons 
the voters believe to be representative, hard-working, and 
effective. The United States was founded as a representative 
democracy in which the voters retained the right and the 
responsibility to choose their representatives. Instead of 
strengthening the democratic system, term limits will undermine 
the democratic process by limiting the right to choose 
    In their wisdom, the Founders chose not to incorporate into 
the Constitution term limits for Members of Congress. Alexander 
Hamilton called term limits ``ill-founded,'' ``pernicious,'' 
and ``a diminution of the inducements to good behavior.'' In 
asking ``Who are to be the objects of popular choice?'' James 
Madison responded, ``Every citizen whose merit may recommend 
him to the esteem and confidence of his country. No 
qualification * * * is permitted to fetter the judgement or 
disappoint the inclination of the people.''
    We share the majority's assertion ``that power tends to 
corrupt, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.'' Those 
tenets, however, do not apply to a periodically elected 
representative legislature like the U.S. Congress. Unlike 
dictators, kings, queens, emperors, czarinas, tyrants, and 
despots, Members of Congress are not appointed, anointed, or 
even elected for life. The Constitution provides a ``check'' on 
the power of Members of Congress by requiring each member of 
the House and one-third of the Members of the Senate to stand 
for reelection every 2 years. Some term limits advocates argue 
that the prospects of reelection leave Members unwilling to 
cast politically unpopular votes. By their logic, Members of 
Congress should be limited to only one term so as to avoid the 
``temptations'' that term limits advocates ascribe to 
    But we question whether the advocates of term limits want 
Members to be more accountable, or actually less so. The 
frustration on the part of term limits advocates with voters 
who choose their Members of Congress on criteria other than 
length of service is difficult to understand. The proponents of 
term limits claim that Members of Congress have lost touch with 
the needs of their constituents at the same time these 
proponents complain that Members of Congress need to be 
insulated from the voters in order to cast ``politically 
unpopular'' votes.
    We wonder what form of accountability is left if the 
incentives of reelection are removed. The danger that 
particular Members of Congress will be ``captured'' by single-
issue special interest groups to the detriment of other issues 
is that much greater if representatives do not have to justify 
all their work to their constituents at election time. We agree 
with Alexander Hamilton that the ability of individuals to be 
re-elected would give them ``the inclination and the resolution 
to act [their] part well.''
    The single vote each Member is allotted to exercise on each 
bill before Congress hardly can be equated to the ``absolute'' 
authority of a dictator--the single vote of a Member of 
Congress does not approach the power vested in the President. 
We are unaware of any Senator or Representative who wields 
``absolute'' power over the administrative or legislative 
functions of the U.S. Government; we doubt term-limits 
proponents can find such a Member.
    Indeed, if anything, term limits would threaten the balance 
of power between the legislative and executive branches of 
government. The President has at his disposal many levers of 
power. The one constant bulwark to the abuse of power by the 
Executive has been Congress. Out of fear and concern for the 
concentration of that power in the executive branch, the Nation 
adopted the 22d amendment to the Constitution limiting a 
President to two terms.
    Advocates of term limits should heed James Madison's 
warning, ``[t]he greater the proportion of new members * * *, 
the more apt will they be to fall into the snares that may be 
laid for them.'' By denying voters the choice to send 
experienced Members to Congress, terms limits will certainly 
create the opportunity for the executive branch to overreach 
and set snares for new and unwary Members of Congress. 
Ironically, term limits will tend to shift the decisionmaking 
power for complicated and controversial fiscal and social 
issues to unelected and unaccountable career bureaucrats within 
the executive branch.
    Prior service in Congress is only one of the many criteria 
under the category of ``experience'' that individual voters may 
apply when casting a ballot. Each Member of Congress arrives 
with a unique background and ideas about particular problems 
and their solutions; after arrival, we sometimes find the 
problems more complicated and the solutions more difficult to 
obtain than previously expected. The realization that ``bumper 
sticker'' solutions are not feasible means that each Member of 
Congress, with the acquiescence of constituents, must become a 
better student of the issues. Often, that process takes time. 
Voters may prefer the long distance runner over the sprinter, a 
representative for the long haul not just for the short term. 
Voters should have the option of sending a person who will work 
in the long run to accomplish their goals.
    Members of Congress who do not engage their constituents in 
discussions about the issues of the day can hardly be 
considered representatives. We, however, have confidence that 
voters can draw their own conclusions about the effectiveness 
and worthiness of a candidate regardless of the length of 
service. Indeed, there is no more effective or dependable 
exercise for applying term limits than election day, the second 
Tuesday of November every 2 years.

    Judging by the spirited and ardent efforts of those who are 
seeking to propose a constitutional amendment to limit 
congressional terms, one would assume that new faces in the 
House and Senate are few and far between. But in fact, nearly 
70 percent of the Members of the House have served less than 
the 12-year House limit prescribed by S.J. Res. 21. In the 
Senate, that figure is over 50 percent. In my view, we have a 
well-balanced bicameral legislature where each Chamber is 
divided between newly elected Members who bring energy and 
fresh ideas to Washington, and more experienced Members, many 
of whom bring expertise and sound judgment to what can be a 
tedious and complex legislative process.
    Those who support term limits should take a close look at 
the election results of the past 14 years. In 1980, 
dissatisfied yet anxious voters gave control of the White House 
and the U.S. Senate to the Republican Party. Six years later, 
voters returned control of the Senate to the Democrats. In 
1992, the electorate transferred control of the Executive and 
both Houses of Congress to the Democratic party. Then, just a 
few short months ago, those same voters returned control of not 
only the Senate to the Republicans, but also, for the first 
time in over 40 years, gave us a Republican Speaker of the 
    The public may be angry, they may be cynical and they may 
be unsure of exactly what they want from their government. But 
our recent election history points out the fallacies in what is 
essentially the bottom line of this proposed legislation--that 
term limits are necessary to bring about change.
    Term limits supporters claim that the powers of incumbency 
discourage and handicap challengers that do not have the 
fundraising ability, name recognition, or the political clout 
that sitting Members of Congress enjoy. First, it should be 
noted that though difficult, it is far from impossible to 
unseat an incumbent. In my 1992 campaign, though outspent by a 
nearly 5-to-1 margin, I was able to upset an incumbent 
Republican Senator. Not because he didn't have incumbent 
advantages--he did. But the people of Wisconsin decided for 
themselves that after 12 years, this particular incumbent (a 
term-limits supporter running for his third term) no longer 
represented their viewpoint. This is how the democratic process 
should operate.
    When the issue of term limits is debated on the floor of 
the Senate in the coming weeks, I will be urging my colleagues 
to reflect on the irreparable damage that such an amendment 
might do to this institution. We have had some truly 
outstanding individuals serve in the U.S. Senate. Republican or 
Democratic, Conservative or Liberal--these individuals, whether 
you agreed with them or not, were defined not only by their 
legislative accomplishments but also by their character and the 
principles for which they often stood and fought for. Had we 
had term limits, many of these individuals would have been 
forced prematurely out of office, and I am convinced that this 
would have had a detrimental effect on the extraordinary 
progress that this Nation has made on a wide range of issues 
over the last 200 years.
    In 1955, the Senate established a commission led by Senator 
John F. Kennedy, charging that commission with the 
responsibility of naming the five greatest U.S. Senators in our 
Nation's history. After substantial input from other Members 
and the academic community, the commission chose Henry Clay, 
Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Robert M. LaFollette, Sr., and 
Robert A. Taft, Sr. Portraits of these five Senators are 
hanging today in the Senate's reception room. Of Clay, Webster, 
and Calhoun, Senator Kennedy said:

        No other Senators have ever rivaled the unparalleled 
        leadership and statesmanship which they gave to a 
        growing and anxious nation during a critical era when 
        the Senate was the nation's most important body.

    Of ``Fighting Bob'' LaFollette from the Great State of 
Wisconsin, Senator Kennedy wrote:

        [LaFollette's] impressive legislative accomplishments * 
        * * his tireless battles to make Government serve all 
        the people, and his deeply felt insight into social and 
        economic forces, all combined to shape a career we 
        rightfully honor today.

    Clearly, the considerable legislative skills exercised by 
these great figures were affected by their extended years of 
service in the U.S. Senate. Calhoun served 19 years, LaFollette 
served 22 years, and Clay and Webster each served 24 years. 
Taft was the novice, having served only 14 years. His service 
was cut short by his death in office during his third term. One 
can only wonder how these historical figures would have turned 
out if their service in the Senate would have been limited to 
just 12 years.
    And these five Senators are not alone. The history books 
are full of names such as Hubert Humphrey, Everett Dirksen, 
Barry Goldwater, and Phil Hart. Barry Goldwater, an icon of the 
Conservative movement in this country, served in the Senate for 
30 years. He came here during Eisenhower, took a break during 
LBJ, came back during Nixon, and retired under Reagan. I can 
say that as a progressive Democratic Senator from Wisconsin, 
that this Nation, and this institution, are better today 
because of Senator Goldwater's long service.
    Finally, I would like to express my very serious concern 
about the great enthusiasm in the 104th Congress for making 
major alterations to the most fundamental parts of the United 
States Constitution. Excluding the Bill of Rights which were 
ratified together in 1791, this Nation has approved just 17 
constitutional amendments in the past 200 years. That is an 
average of about one amendment every 13 years. And yet here we 
are about a month and a half into the 104th Congress and the 
Senate Judiciary Committee has already reported out two 
proposals to amend the Constitution. Besides the term-limits 
and balanced-budget amendments, the committee has already 
completed hearings on a line-item veto constitutional 
amendment. School prayer and flag burning amendments have 
already been introduced. I find it troubling and dangerous that 
so many of my colleagues believe that the very important 
fiscal, social, and political problems that we face today can 
be so easily solved by making dramatic changes to a document 
that was so carefully crafted and that has guided our Nation 
for well over 200 years.
    Interestingly enough, Mexico has a system of term limits 
even more stringent than those contained in S.J. Res. 21. There 
is no reelection for either the Mexican President or the 
Mexican federal legislature. And since 1917, the Mexican 
Constitution has been amended over 400 times.
    If the powers of incumbency lend an unfair advantage to 
sitting Members of Congress, we should roll up our sleeves and 
pass campaign-finance-reform legislation so that challengers 
have a reasonable chance of running a competitive campaign. 
Term limits are no doubt a popular idea--but so is 
comprehensive campaign finance reform. If we can solve a 
problem that most parties seem to agree exists--that is, the 
unfair advantages held by incumbents--by means other than a 
constitutional amendment, we should aggressively pursue that 
avenue before considering such a fundamental change to our