CONGRESSIONAL TERM LIMITS; Congressional Record Vol. 141, No. 57
(House of Representatives - March 28, 1995)

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[Pages H3858-H3859]
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                       CONGRESSIONAL TERM LIMITS

  The SPEAKER pro tempore [Mr. Zimmer]. Under a previous order of the 
House, the gentleman from South Carolina [Mr. Graham] is recognized for 
5 minutes.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the other participants 
who are going to let me go at this point in time.
  You have heard a lot of good intellectual arguments why we need term 
limits. I am sure there will be some made tonight and tomorrow why term 
limits is a bad idea.
  All I know is this, that of the 73 Republican freshmen that serve in 
this body, probably 90-95 percent of us support term limits. I think we 
are very close to the people in terms of the last election. I think the 
sophomore class above us has a high percentage of people supporting 
term limits, because we understand why 80 percent of the American 
public wants this body to impose term limits on itself.
  Having said that, one thing that I think I need to say is that term 
limits is not going to cure every problem in America, and it should not 
be billed that way. It is not going to make us overnight more 
efficient. It is not going to balance the budget. But it will 
fundamentally change why people come to Washington, DC, and why they 
seek office.
  What it will do in my opinion is you stop playing the game to become 
a subcommittee chairman, a committee chairman, and see how far you can 
go. You try to make the world better that you are going back to rather 
than try to make the world better that you are in up here.
  I think the fundamental reason we need term limits in this country, 
[[Page H3859]] Speaker, is to change the motivation of why people come 
to Washington, DC. I think spending will get better. I think a lot of 
things will get better up here. They will be less interested in trying 
to find a pork-barrel project to get us reelected and more interested 
in trying to make the world better where we are going to go back to, 
and that is home.
  There are going to be four versions to be voted on tomorrow. I think 
we are going to fall short on all four of them. I am sorry. There is a 
lot of blame to go around. I tell you, the Republican Party has some 
share in that blame, and certainly the Democrat Party does, too.
  We are probably going to deliver 80 to 85 percent of the Republican 
Conference on term limits. We need help from the Democratic Party. If 
you had every Republican voting for term limits, you would still need 
60 Democrats. We are going to fall short for a variety of reasons, and 
I think the blame needs to be bipartisan.
  We have got four versions to vote on. One version is by my roommate 
here, the gentleman from Tennessee [Mr. Hilleary]. He has a version 
that says 12 years, and if there is an existing State law more 
restrictive, it stands. I like that version. That is why I came to 
Washington, DC, was to improve Congress, not to overshadow the States. 
That is the best, I think, of the four. I am going to vote for all 
  Because I do not want it to be said the reason it failed was because 
of Lindsey Graham. I am going to vote for the Democratic version that 
says 12 years retroactively applied which simply means this, if you 
have been here 12 years or longer and the amendment is passed and it is 
ratified by the States, you lose your job. That is not the best way to 
implement term limits. I would rather have that than nothing.
  I challenge my Democratic colleagues to deliver enough votes to make 
on version get out of the House. This is probably the most important 
thing that we will do in the 104th Congress. It is probably the most 
important vote we will take in my political life, because if you want 
to change politics, you need to change the reasons people seek the 
office. That is exactly what term limits does.
  I implore my colleagues on the Republican side to deliver the votes 
to get an amendment out. If the Democrats play a game of chicken, 
loading up the votes for a retroactive term limits bill, let us meet 
them. Let us have term limits in some form rather than no form.
  I am going to vote for term limits in any fashion, because I believe 
it fundamentally will change the way we govern in Washington, DC. That 
is why I think I got elected is to come up here and fundamentally 
change our government. I believe that is why 80 percent of the American 
public from Maine to California, from the Deep South to the Far West, 
support term limits, because they feel their Government does not serve 
them. It serves the institution, and if you really are serious about 
reforming government, it needs to start in this body.
  This is the only vote we will take with the Contract With America 
that applies to us as individuals. It is going to be a gut-check for 
people in this body.