Utah lawmakers should push for Congressional term limits

Collin PaceWhen our state legislators commit to supporting federal term limits, Utah is signaling to the rest of the country that we are ready to lead.

According to a Dan Jones & Associates Survey, 88 percent of Utah voters support term limits on members of Congress. Congressional term limits are THE most popular and bipartisan issue in Utah, hands down.

This legislative session the Utah State Senate considered several resolutions to rein in an out of control federal government. Some of these resolutions worked with legislation from other states to initiate a process to amend the US Constitution.

However, it seems that there has been more success when legislation has simpler language and scope. Lawmakers have seen more wisdom in supporting single topic amendments – like congressional term limits or a balanced budget amendment. These are issues upon which lawmakers can count on popular bipartisan support.

When congressional term limits are bundled together with other issues, its appeal becomes diluted. Like consumers, voters don’t appreciate being told they have to accept something lesser in order to obtain what they really want.

Our state senators understand the strength of taking an a la carte approach to reforming an out of control Washington D.C. For example, in 2015, the Senate passed a resolution to hold a convention limited to discussion of a balanced budget amendment. This session they are considering a single subject term limits amendment resolution, and the Utah Senate may vote for congressional term limits before the session ends.

In the last few years, our nation has been besieged by political division. Republicans and Democrats have devolved into factions that barely agree on anything, and both sides refuse to compromise. The public gets more cynical as these divisions deepen. Proposals like congressional term limits, which are supported by Republicans and Democrats will help to bridge the division. That’s why passing legislation, like term limits, is so important as we attempt to restore trust in our public institutions.

Our founders wrote a process into the Constitution that allows states to propose solutions when the federal government won’t. The solution requires our legislature to propose a fix that 38 states will agree to implement. The Republican Party controls 32 state legislatures, the Democrats control 14, and the remaining four are divided. To get 38 states to agree our legislators will need to become statesmen. They will need to approve resolutions with bipartisan support like congressional term limits.  Any attempt to amend the Constitution is a fool’s errand unless both republican and democratic citizens support the change.

Founding father Alexander Hamilton agreed, writing that “every amendment to the Constitution if once established, would be a single proposition, and might be brought forward singly. There would then be no necessity for management or compromise, in relation to any other point no giving nor taking. The will of the requisite number would at once bring the matter to a decisive issue.”

Hamilton had it right and Our Utah State Senate should be commended as statesmen for following his lead as they vote to bring term limits to Congress.