Op-ed: It’s time for term limits legislation in Congress

Treasurer of Philadelphia Young Republicans says that calling for term limits on legislation in Congress begins at a local level.

By Brian Leib

Another scandal, another representative in Congress with a sexual harassment lawsuit and public disgrace. This time, it’s the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat Congressman John Conyers Jr., from Detroit, Michigan.

Congressman Conyers was first elected to office in 1964 and, in 2016, was re-elected to his 27th term in the United States House of Representatives. He has served in Congress for over 50 years. Let that sink in for a minute. Fifty years of the same elected official representing the same district. Just so happens that Congressman Conyers has represented a city that is labeled as the greatest economic and social collapse of our lifetime. Detroit, Michigan. I would venture to say that Congressman Conyers is part of the problem in Michigan and not part of the solution.

I’m on the record calling for term limits legislation in Congress and at the local level. I firmly believe that the American people deserve to have new leadership representing our interests in the nation’s capital and locally. However, due to campaign finance laws and the burdensome task of raising an enormous amount of money, many incumbents like Conyers and Philadelphia Congressman Bob Brady rarely have anything to worry about when it comes time for re-election.

They have millions of dollars of cash on hand at any given time sitting in their campaign account, and outside groups like super PACs and independent expenditure groups ready to spend millions to keep their incumbent in office. They are entrenched in the political system and, hell, Congress even has budget line items to help elected officials stay in office. Never heard of franking privileges? Check it out here: https://cha.house.gov/franking-commission/what-frank

Brady is also a long-term member of Congress and recently has reportedly become the direct subject of a federal corruption probe. Brady’s campaign is accused of paying off a challenger to the tune of $90,000 to drop out of a race in 2012. Let the record reflect that former Judge Jimmie Moore has admitted to concealing payments from Brady, and Judge Moore’s former aide has already pleaded guilty.

Brady is 72 years old and will turn 73 a month before the 2018 primary. He’s held elected office since 1998 and, again, much like Conyers, he’s represented a city that has continuously led the country in poverty, crime rates and a failed education system. Brady, who is also the chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Party, has steered the ship since the mid-1980s. Over the last 30 years of his leadership, political corruption and government overspending and misuse of public funds runs rampant. Locally here in Philadelphia, we have the highest poverty rate in the country and an underfunded public pension pool that is somehow missing $6 billion in funding.

Wouldn’t term limits in Congress limit how entrenched our political representatives can get? Wouldn’t term limits organically create new leaders with new and fresh ideas? Wouldn’t term limits limit the impact that lobbyists and special interests groups have in D.C.? I think the answer is yes. My position on this matter is that members of Congress should put a bill on the president’s desk that would limit House members to four terms of two-year lengths and Senate members to two terms of four-year lengths.

If I run for Congress in 2018, rest assured that term limits would be a major piece of my platform. As President Trump has said, “It’s time to drain the swamp.” Regardless of your political party or feelings toward the president, how could any American argue that entrenched and career politicians are moving our country forward? They are stale. They are the status quo. They are the problem with the political landscape.

The time is now for a new class of community and business leaders to run for office, win election and become citizen legislators in Washington, D.C. Let’s replace the word “politician” with “citizen legislator” and return the power back to the people. ••