Sunday, February 12, 2012

U.S. Senate votes down DeMint term limits resolution 24-75

It was a clear defeat, and a predictable one, but the fact the vote was held at all was a clear victory in bringing this issue back to the fore.

Recent uproar about insider trading by Congress members and their staffs led to a vote on the so-called STOCK Act to explicitly prohibit such activity. The STOCK Act easily passed the Senate and a House version passed soon after. But the attention given to Congressional soft corruption invited amendments to deal with more fundamental issues such as earmarking and, yes, Congressional term limits.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), chief sponsor of the Congressional term limits amendment bill, used this opportunity to add a "Sense of the Senate" amendment calling for a vote on whether Congressional terms should be limited. The amendment failed 24-75 on Feb. 2.

Check to see how your Senator voted here.

The breakdown of the votes is interesting. Note that three-quarters of the Senate opposes term limits. This is a near mirror image of the public, three-quarters (or more) of which support term limits in polls and at ballot boxes. This clearly shows how opposite the interests of incumbent politicians as a class are from the electorate. It is this class interest that makes institutional protections of voters such as term limits so important.

Currently, U.S. Term Limits is approaching all the YEA voters and urging them to walk the talk. Only about a third of those who voted for DeMint's Sense of the Senate resolution are cosponsors of his Term Limits for All amendment bill.

Clearly, we have a lot of work to do. But with polling on term limits at all-time highs, term limits bills in both Houses of Congress, 99 signatories on the USTL Congressional term limits pledge, a vote on the Senate Floor and even a rival bill being floated to sabotage term limits in the House, you can see things are moving on this issue.

If you haven't yet, be sure to sign the USTL online petition calling for Congressional term limits here. Let Congress know how you would have voted on that Senate resolution!