tv Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on Congressional Term Limits CSPAN August 4, 2019 9:01pm-10:52pm EDT
senator cory booker. starting thursday on c-span. watch any time online at c-span .org or listen live from wherever you are on the go using the free c-span radio app. >> next, a senate hearing on congressional accountability and whether term limits should enacted. another chance to see q & a when saudi arabia women's -al-sharif ist mala talks about her book "daring to drive". now the senate judiciary committee held this hearing on term limits and whether they are effective, especially when dealing with a lack of trust
many voters feel about the government. this runs about an hour and 45 minutes. sen cruz: good ever good afternoon. let me begin by thanking you all for attending, and thanking senator hirono for working with me and my staff to convene this hearing and bring these witnesses together. the topic before us is one, i believe, of great importance: the need for term limits for members of congress so that we can begin to fix what is broken here in washington politics. before i introduce our first panel, i'd like to explain why we organized today's hearing.
in the 2016 election, the american people made a resounding call to drain the swamp that is modern washington. and sadly this is a bipartisan problem. the american people have lost confidence in washington, and especially in congress. enmeshed in backroom deals and broken promises, our capital has too often become a political playground for the powerful and the well-connected, for members of the permanent political class looking to accumulate more and more power at the expense of american taxpayers. as part of his promise to drain the swamp, president trump strongly endorsed and campaigned on passing congressional term limits. though our founders didn't include term limits in the onstitution, they feared the creation of a permanent political class that existed parallel to, rather than within, american society.
as benjamin franklin observed, "in free governments, the rulers are the servants, and the people their superiors, or the former therefore to return among the latter was not to degrade but to promote them." their fears of the framers have today been realized. today, the swamp is hard at ork, picking winners and losers, with hardworking americans typically winding up on the losing end. every year, congress spends billions of dollars on giveaways for the ell-connected. washington insiders get axpayer money. members of congress get reelected, and the system works for everyone except the american people. this kind of self-interest builds on itself as members spend more and more time in ffice. in an age in which the
partisan divide intractable, it is remarkable that public support for congressional term limits remains strong across already lines. in poll after poll, conducted over decades, americans who are republicans, who are democrats, who are independents, americans who are conservatives, who are liberals, or moderates, men or women who are anglo-american, or african-american, or hispanic, all support term limits by overwhelming margins. for example, a 2018 mclaughlin & associates poll found that 82 % of americans support term limits for congress, including 89% of republicans, but also 76% of democrats support term limits. 83 % of independents support term limits. 72% of hispanics support term limits.
70% of african-americans support term limits. indeed, the one group, it seems in america, that does not support term limits are career politicians here in washington. everybody else recognizes the problem. a 2016 rasmussen poll showed much the same thing as did a 2013 gallup poll. these results have been consistent year after ear. ending that dynamic of congress enriching insiders and using those insiders to hold on to power favors neither party. it is not a problem with just republicans or just democrats. restoring confidence and accountability in congress shouldn't be the business of just one party, or of just this committee, or even of just the senate. it concerns all americans, whatever your politics.
so why hasn't congress acted already? it is straightforward. oo many career politicians don't want to restrict their own power, and neither party wants to act on their own. still, the american people recognize that congressional term limits would help fix the brokenness and corruption fostered by career politicians in washington today. at our founding, representatives left their omes, their farms, their businesses, they travelled to washington to represent their constituents. they served in congress for a time, but usually returned to their homes and their affairs. leaders like george washington, john adams, and james madison reached the height of political power, and then relinquished it to return
to private life. but today members of congress aren't doing that. and instead, far too many of our politicians come to washington to stay. too much of washington's business is dictated by career politicians, by bureaucrats, and by lobbyists who spent time as one or the other. the rise of political careerism in modern washington is a sharp departure from what the founders intended in our ederal governing bodies. to effectively drain the swamp and end the phenomenon of career politicians, it is long past time to enact term limits for congress. i am the author of a constitutional amendment that would limit u.s. senators to two six-year terms, and would limit members of the house of representatives to three two-year terms. at this point we currently have 14 cosponsors in the enate. it is my hope that this hearing today will help fix lane why we should come together, republicans and democrats, across party lines, to enact term limits to protect the american people. he senate i believe should
take up and vote on the term limits amendment that i've introduced, and if congress will simply listen to the american people, to the overwhelming majorities across party lines that want to see term limits, which we have for the president, see term limits also for congress, then we can rest confident that the states would quickly ratify that amendment. the only impediment is the united states congress. and i hope that this hearing and the panel we have today, the two panels, will help move that discussion forward. with that, i recognize senator hirano for her opening statement. sen. hirono: thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for all witnesses for coming this afternoon to discuss whether or not our short term limits are an effective way to mprove our government. i know senator cruz believes term limits will help solve the problems we have with corruption, crime using and accountability in congress. but there are easier and more
effective ways to connect the government more directly and honestly to the people. in my view, the most effective term limits are elections. and the most knowledgeable erm limiters are voters. we should be working to ensure more americans are able to ote. by making voting easier in the united states, not harder. by making voter registration as simple as possible. by stopping unnecessary and discriminatory purging of voter rolls. by making it easier for people to vote early or allowing them to vote by mail. i would say, if the american people were asked whether they support the aforementioned points, probably, we would find that a vast majority would support these suggestions.
ut congress is not acting to do any of those things. we should all condemn discriminatory voter i.d. laws. partisan gerrymandering. we should enact a law to reverse the shelby county decision. we should also admit that there is no crisis of voter fraud, and instead, counter the real problems of election fraud like we saw in north carolina and election security. we should pass any of the very sound bills proposed by my colleagues that would require reporting of offers of foreign election interference, secure election systems, and require paper ballots. we don't need to artificially restrict voters' choices. instead, we should expand voting access and opportunities. the more eligible americans who vote in every election the better. full stop. our concerns about the elections can be tackled by ethics rules and
procedures. let us make sure there is more transparency not just in congress, but across all branches of government. if what we want is more confidence in elected officials, let's make it easier for voters to trust us. anyone elected to public office in this country, or even appointed to high positions of trust like the cabinet should have to prove to the public that their only interest is the public interest. we should all have to divest ourselves of any private business interests, from small peanut farms, to large multinational branding companies, to anything in between. we should not be able to profit from our public service once we are finished with it ither. if, for example, you served in a department making decisions about detaining immigrants come to look her homeland secretary of homeland security, john kelly, he should not be allowed to go through a revolving door and
get paid by a corporation building those detention facilities. former members of congress should not have privileges if they use them to lobby clients. no wonder elected officials have problems with public trust. we do not police ourselves effectively. the final thing i would like to highlight is a mechanism for improving government that is right in our constitution, as the first, the bill of rights. i am talking about freedom of the press. if we want to make elected officials more accountable, we should all support the rights of a free press, because the matter how good voter turnout is, no matter how safe our election systems are, no matter how transparent members of congress are about our conflicts, as justice louis brandeis wrote "sunlight is he best disinfectant." electric lights the most efficient policeman. end quote.
instead of calling the perfect the enemy of the people, we need to champion the role they play in our democracy and increase transparency. the more informed voters are, the more responsive our become. so while i agree with senator cruz that congress as a whole -- and voters are getting now, i don't agree term limits are the answer. term limits have served to strengthen the executive branch at the expense of legislatures. they make lobbyists more, not less influential. i look forward to hearing more details from our witnesses on both sides of the question. thank you, mr. chairman. sen. cruz: thank you, senator hirono. we know introduce our first witness, the honorable jim demint, former senator of south carolina and a long-term
friend to many of us on this committee. senator demint served at the american people in both houses of congress from 1989 to 2005. he represented south carolina's fourth district. in 2007-2015, he represented the state of south carolina in he united states senate. he authored reforms to taxes and entitlements. among his many achievements, he led conservatives efforts to ban congressional earmarks, something the republican conference this year made a permanent ban within our conference. most relevant to today's earing, senator demint led efforts to impose term limits, ultimately taking a resolution that would have expressed that to the senate, and said the constitution ought to be amended to include determined with.
at the coercion of his service in the senate, senator demint became the president of the heritage foundation, working there for four years. senator demint is currently the chairman of the conservative policy institute and also the founder of the conservative senators find. he is the author of several books, including "saving america from economic collapse," "the great american awakening: two years that changed america," and most recently "falling in love with america again." which debuted at number one on the washington post bestseller list. senator demint, welcome. i would ask that you stand and be sworn in. raise your right hand. do you swear and affirm that the testimony are about to give you for this committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? mr. demint: thank you, god. thank you, mr. chairman, ranking member, and members of the subcommittee. it is extremely gracious of
you to invite me today, especially considering i will spend my time advocating for your unemployment. is nothing personal, i promise. i get the opportunity to travel all of the country and peak, and i find there are many issues where the members of the public and members of congress are divergent. but there are a few issues where the gap is as large as the issue of term limits. if you need a standing applause line, it is talk about term limits, and people will stand up and applaud. as you are ready pointed out, somewhere between 75% or 80% of americans believe in term limits. they sure are the idea of judges and bureaucrats, because they instinctively know what is an eternal truth, that power corrupts. and in washington, seniority
is closely associated with power. there are good arguments for and against congressional term limits, and are roughly the same arguments that delegates debated at the constitutional convention. it was george mason of virginia who argued that nothing is so essential to the preservation of a republican government as a periodic rotation of its representatives. for his part, rufus king of new york assisted that he who has proved himself to be most fit for an office ought not to be excluded by the constitution from holding it. in theory, both are right. a governmental turnover is undeniably healthy for any republic, especially for one as large and diverse as we are. meanwhile, disqualifying unusually capable legislators from serving would be a lost our country.
the philosophical argument about term limits can be a close call, as it was in 1787. unlike our founders, we don't have to confine our debate to theoretical obstructions. we can draw on real-world experience, with our 230-year-old system, and especially, it's performance over the last few decades. the practical case for term limits, mr. chairman, is no longer a close call. we don't have to speculate as he founders did that the prospect of a permanent tenure in congress might turn the senators and representatives toward self-interested, short-term thinking. especially in recent decades, when control of congress has been constantly up for grabs, this short-term thinking has become congress's defining defect. for individual members, short-term thinking works incentives towards bringing home the bacon and
fundraising, and to the special interests who can deliver them both. members spend less time legislating and more time raising money. both for their own reelections, and for the political action committees specifically designed to finance their careerist ambitions. members quickly give up their campaign promises of bold ideas such as balancing the budget and turn to new programs spending more money that they can deliver to their constituents. as individual members have retreated from their legislative responsibilities, party leaders have however poorly fill the gap. given their incentives, leaders now use their house and senate, not as legislative institutions but as arms of their parties'campaign committees. the senate in particular are no longer functions as a legislative body at all.
leaders of both parties have shut down debate for the sole purpose of shooting senators from politically controversial votes, thereby denying the american people's right to an accountable legislature. members who criticize this dysfunctional approach are chastised for not being team players and friend was being cut off from their party leaders' special interests fundraising gravy train. they are reassured that this process, however imperfect, is simply how they make their way in washington. but in truth, it is how washington makes its way into them. lifelong tenure incentivizes members to prioritize the next election over the next generation, and partisanship over statesmanship. it realigns their interest away from the american people and towards the swamp. the consequences are all around us.
the $22 trillion national debt, the wasteful porkbarrel programs appropriated specifically to facilitate members re-election, the uninformed entitlement programs that with parties know are hurling the nation into insolvency, congress's lack of oversight over the sprawling federal bureaucracy, the power of special interests particularly the allure of a congressional career on k street from members who play ball. the total disappearance of the budget process. the breakdown in the legislative process, specially in the senate. the collapse of public confidence in congress as an institution. term limits will not solve all these problems, but they would significantly change incentives throughout the political system. in washington, fundraising
would become less important, so special interests would be more powerful and partisanship less personally or politically rewarding. term limits might open up space and provide little courage toward action on politically difficult issues like entitlement reform, health care, immigration or budget reform. by closing off avenues to be something important, term limits might reintroduce senators and representatives to the appeal of doing something important, for their constituents, for their country, and for themselves. the end result would be a more accountable, a more statesmanlike, and a more trusted and respected congress. as i said before, our congress is on an unsustainable course. we have a $22 trillion debt, the funds for social security and medicare have been spent on other things. the transportation fund is empty. we could go on and on.
when i run for congress, i limited my own term, consistent with your amendment of six years in the house and two years in the senate, hoping to get the freedom to rock the boat. to change the system, where we could actually build a better america. i am grateful to you for introducing it. i am very well aware of all the arguments on both sides. but when i came to congress, i supported term limits in theory, now, i supported after seeing what really happens here. and we know, as a have said before, that power corrupts and it has corrupted absolutely here in washington. and it is the seniority system that drives at all. thank you, mr. chairman. sen. cruz: what you said at the till and there is actually something i find myself saying
many times and i am back in texas. which is that before i was elected to the senate, i supported term limits, but now, after having been here and seeing it first hand, i support term limits a thousand imes more. you have served in both the house and the senate. can you share from your own experience what serving in congress, why it lead you to support term limits, why it underscored the need for a limit on the terms? mr. demint: thank you, mr. chairman. i believed coming in, as a businessman who had never been involved in politics, that the idea of folks coming to washington and representing their constituents for a limited period, and coming back and living under the laws that they passed -- i found that if you limit your own term under the current situation, you are in a disadvantage.
i was denied committees. a number of things. i was told right away that if i wanted to raise money in washington, i needed to disavow my pledge. it is certainly not a welcome thing here in washington. but as i said, the most important thing for me was not o become a part of the problem that i ran for congress to get rid of, the entrenched political establishment vested in the status quo, careening our country towards bankruptcy. i felt term limits would give me the freedom to come, fight he system, and not feel like i had to have my eyes on the prize of a committee, or a chairmanship, or eventually be in leadership. and you that limiting my term and rocking the boat, that none of those would come my way. i think it is true, my perspective was always different. i always said, if you are
going to run a race and you know it is 100 yards, you can give it your all. and i did that in the house and senate. but if you are just going out jogging, you can do it for a long time, and you don't really reach a destination the same way you do it. again, i have heard the arguments. we will have a permanent staff, a permanent bureaucracy, that elections are the best term limits, but we know the power of ncumbency. we know what has happened to preserve the seniority ystem. >> in your testimony you talked about incentives. risk aversion. i've been at numerous town halls back in texas where citizen also ask, they will
say do members of congress believe anything? are they just -- you know, do they believe anything when they first ran and what i usually share with folks is i say i think most people that run for congress do so because they believe in principles on the democratic and republican side. they come here with an idea of changing things but then the incentives become the overwhelming dominant desire is i must get re-elected and hat dwarfed anything else. and they find themselves -- it's a little bit like the wonderful movie series the godfather. where in each of those movies, is the story of michael corleone, the good son, making decisions, each of which seems perfectly reasonable. michael steps forward to save his father. his father is going to be murdered. but each of those small rationalizations lead him down
the road to becoming a mass murderer in much the same way elected members of congress, they make small concessions to, well, i want to do something big. i want to balance the budget, i want to address the debt. i want to, i want to strengthen and reform social security and medicare. but i got to get reelected first. and it is those series of small concessions, one after the other, after the other, that they find -- i think this is true on both sides of the aisle. you look at both republicans and democrats who are afraid to work together in a bipartisan manner because the overwhelming objective is, we must get reelected. do those observations, does that comport with what you saw when you served here and what you see today? sen. cruz: -- sen. demint: yes, they do. i don't think either one of us thinks our colleagues are mass murderers. don't want to associate with that and i know that is not what you meant.
what i have observed is everyone, republican and democrat, comes here with good intentions and a lot of bold ideas to change, but it usually comes to change a system. we find very quickly that there is no reward for changing something. there is particularly no reward for cutting anything, eliminating any program or eliminating spending. all the rewards here in washington are for growing government, spending more money, and creating more programs and protecting the tatus quo. i have seen again that people come with a lot of good intentions. but there are very few, i could count them on one hand, out of the more than 500 congressmen and senators who have been here for more than 10 years, who are still really fighting for those things they came for. that should tell us something on its face, that this town, this swamp, changes the whole alignment from what we come for and what we end up
doing. it is just bigger than we are as individuals. term limits would allow folks to keep their focus back home, on what they are going to do after congress. it would make sure that they do everything they can before the next election to accomplish their goals rather than what we see here time and time again, just like i read in the news today. there will be no consideration of health reform until after the next election. and i heard that so many times. mr. chairman, "demint, this is not the right time or the right way to do this. you need to wait." again, i'm not suggesting this ill solve all of our problems. the ranking member has mentioned other things that we can do. this is not a silver bullet.
but this is one that will fundamentally change incentives and align what we do here with i think our founders' vision of citizen statesmen representing the american people. sen. cruz: although i might be obliged to say that mo green was a friend of mine, i will take your friendly amendment that at least the overwhelming majority of members of congress are not currently mass murderers. sen. hirono: thank you, mr. chairman. i noticed the german noted that members of congress are very risk-averse and that the only thing they care about is real elections and therefore they are risk-averse. i have to note that when the affordable care act was passed, that was a huge change to our health care laws. there are people in congress who lost their elections, reelections because they voted for the aca. i would hardly call that risk-averse. or when the senate passed the comprehensive immigration law, which sadly the republican controlled house did not act upon, that was a huge risk taking move on the part of the senate. or i have to say, when we voted judge kavanaugh to
become a lifetime justice on the supreme court, you have three members of the senate who voted against him knowing full well that their reelection was going to be hurt and in fact they lost their elections. i hardly think that kind of broad statement does us much good, in my opinion. now senator, we are aware that since 2013 the average time of senators has been 10.2 years. and that the average term of house members is 9.1 years. and then among the 116th congress, the average term of senators is 10.6 years. did you know that? sen. demint: yes, i did. sen. hirono: even without term limits, people are not staying forever as you postulate.
i just put that in also for the record. sen. demint: may i comment? sen. hirono: are you disputing he amount of time? sen. demint: i want to put it in perspective. i found that lots of new members come and go. folks serve for a shorter time. just after the great 2010 tea party, lots of new people came in. or the 1994 republican revolution in the house. what happens is all these new people with bold ideas come in, and all the committees are controlled by senior members who have been here 15 and 20 years. that is what i found. hanging social security, things to fix medicare, the things i came to do, balancing the budget. they were always thwarted by
senior members in both parties on committees that were standing for the status quo. sen. hirono: i would say that the tea party had tremendous way in the u.s. house. because i was there. let me move on. i think you said in your opening statement that voters favor term limits for judges. did i hear you correctly? sen. demint: yes, they do. sen. hirono: do you think that is a good idea, that we should have term limits for federal judges? sen. demint: i think it is something we should debate and consider. it is not part of senator cruz's amendment. i know from talking to people around the country, the lifetime appointment for judges is not a very popular idea. sen. hirono: yeah, i would think so, especially now as we are packing the courts with a lot of judges who have very strong ideological perspectives. you mentioned in other statements that corruption is related to seniority of elected officials. is that a feeling from your experience or is there data that reflects that connection
between corruption and seniority? sen. demint: i think there's a lot of evidence. we certainly have seen senior members of committees, particularly back in the earmark days, where many members -- sen. hirono: of course we do not have earmarks. sen. demint: it is something that would not have happened had i been term limited. it was very unpopular among senior members of both parties and of k street. sen. hirono: i am asking you if you could cite any studies or any analysis that points to a connection between orruption and seniority. because i would like to read those studies. sen. demint:sen. demint: there are a number of people that have been to jail for corruption, and a lot of those are senior committees, appropriators over the years. that data is readily available. sen. hirono: i will have to look it up then in google or
something. ok. i think all of us share the concern over corruption, of ourse. there is a lot of -- that is happening right now in front of our faces. be that as it may, i'm not so sure that term limits is the answer. i'm glad that you mentioned that it is not the silver bullet, it's not the be-all and end-all. speaking of studies, are you familiar with the academic literature like the work of one of our upcoming witnesses that shows empirically that term limits don't have the effect of cleaning up government or of making it more effective or responsive? sen. demint: i am very familiar with it and have been a part of those studies looking at term limits on the state level. it is clearly evident that states like california have been able to game the system while we see states like florida where they have actually, because of term
limits, a lot of positive reforms and education choice, pension reform, keeping their tax rate low, keeping their economy -- of course, i have seen the studies. but states are much smaller. the corruption possibility, the concentration of power is nothing like what it is up here. i see the arguments. i see -- again i work on term limits at the state level. and i believe in it. but i think the real change would happen if we limited terms in washington. sen. hirono: we are going to hear from professor powell later. i take it you don't agree with those conclusions and those studies. so did you say that you can cite evidence that points the other way, that term limits in fact work? sen. demint: a lot of my evidence is experience. i was here. i have seen the studies. i have been part of a lot of them. my conclusion after serving is that term limits would drastically change incentives and do a lot to reduce
corruption and you will hold up more to get people representing the good of the country. i think the subject of term limits can come under the title of what we have to lose. if we look at where this country is right now, i cannot imagine any collection of alternative representatives who could've done our country more of a more service than the people who have been here the last three decades. i include myself in that number. sen. hirono: mr. chairman, i ealized i'm about the time you spend. can i ask one more question? in my opening statement, i cited certain things we could do to make voting much easier, to make sure that our voting systems are not had. do you agree with those items? sen. demint: i think we should do everything we can to facilitate the voting of american citizens. sen. hirono: thank you.
thank you, mr. chairman. sen. cruz: thank you, senator hirono. i would note that in response to the observation about congressional risk aversion, the senator hirono pointed to three examples she cited of congressional courage. the vote of the democratic majority in favor of obamacare, the vote of the democratic majority in favor of amnesty, and the democrats who voted against the confirmation of justice brett kavanaugh. while those may be examples of courage, those are also examples where those elected officials were voting, number one, consistently with big-money special interests here in washington. but number two, in each of those circumstances, they were voting against the overwhelming interest and views of their constituents. which is why the obamacare view vote produced the republican takeover of the house of representatives in
2010. it is why the amnesty vote helped produce the republican takeover of the senate in 2014. and it is why the vote against justice kavanaugh retired several democratic members. because in those instances, the senators were voting against the views and interests of their constituents. in this instance, with term limits, the overwhelming majority of my constituents and senator hirono's constituents and everyone else's constituents agree with term limits. we ought to have the courage to stand and fight for our constituents. sen. hirono: we obviously have a disagreement. sen. cruz: yes. sen. hirono: there you go. what a democracy. thank you. sen cruz:senator sasse. sen. sasse: thank you for scheduling this very important hearing. thank you for being here and your work on this topic. congratulations for your work on the earmark ban. the republican conference voted last month to permanently ban earmarks. sen. demint: i can't believe that. sen. sasse: there was an earmark ban and every year it came back sort of frankenstein like.
the default assumption was that there should be earmarks again. instead of banning them for another two years, i led the charge in our conference with an assist, important assist from senator cruz, trying to get that your mark ban to be made permanent. we want to make sure that you get lots of credit for you were one of the first people championing this. congratulations. sen. demint: thank you for following through. sen. sasse: i think mr. smith goes to washington would've een an incredibly crappy movie if jimmy stewart stayed around for 100 years, cozied p to k street and then did everything to keep his job here. and yet there is no way you can tell the really important story about someone coming to fight for something if one of their main calculuses -- calculi, to the way they think about the question is, is this going to be popular 12, 18, 24
months from now as opposed to is this the right thing to do for my kids and my constituents' kids and onstituents' grandkids? we need a lot more long-term thinking around here, and if we are going to do that, if you are going to drain the swamp, you have to drive a whole bunch of people who are the swamp protectors out of the swamp to go back home. what we have right now as a whole lot of people who get elected and decide it is a one-way ticket. people are from where they from. when they get to washington, they buy a permanent home and stop visiting the home they came from. they have a calculus that staying in washington forever is a key part of defining their identity and their service. i think it is pretty obvious that one of the reasons we never tackle entitlement reform around here because it is obviously the right long-term thing to do. in the short-term, it will be and really messy to admit the truth that politicians haven't told the truth about the
long-term budget. and we have regularly overpromised. when you come clean with the american people about that, there is going to be a whole bunch of the blood on the floor at first. i would love it if you would itemize a few of the most mportant topics of legislation that you think we all know we should tackle, and yet short-term political calculus leads everybody to say, maybe after the next election. sen. demint: thank you, senator. i recall after the 2010 elections, a number of us wanted to balance the budget. and we picked the debt limit as a fight that we would grant the increase if we could get legislation to balance the budget over 10 years. we called it cut cap and balance. in reality, there was ittle cut in spending. it was the slowing in growth over a ten-year time and some economic incentives where the
growth actually balanced the budget in 10 years. i was just amazed by my own party that this was such a simple idea after a wave of people had been elect to in the tea party on the constitution, on balancing the budget, on what about the debt and the bailouts, that the most resistance we had from balancing the budget over a 10-year time, it was from all the senior members, particularly the appropriators in the senate. including and especially the republican leadership. it was just such a good example of the wave of new people who came in with fresh ideas where they made all these promises and commitments to people, and they came with vision and love for the country. but everyone told them immediately that their expectations were too high. that is what this place does for you. it dumbs down your expectation within weeks of getting here. the nexus of power and reward is all from seniority, fundraising gets more, special
interests get behind you, and then you have more control over communications. if you are trying to cut spending, like if i had to give you one thing, we have to balance the budget. we cannot keep spending more than we are bringing in. but putting anything in -- cutting anything in washington has so much punishment associated with it, every constituent of every program, that no reasonable person is going to keep doing. you are either going to go home or you are going to get unelected. i think the only way to change those incentives is to bring new people here who know they are going to be here for a short time, and they will give everything they have for their country. in one way or another, they will go home. if they are fighting for a lifetime career, the calculus, what do i have to do to stay here? it is to do something up here and pretend to be something else back home. that is the game. sen. sasse: we are almost at time, but can you unpack a little bit more the
distinction you drew between california and florida? because there are lots of thoughtful people who oppose term limit legislation. one of the things they regularly say is that state capitals have term limits that were passed that actually empowered lobbyists and did not lead to significant legislative courage and reform. you drew a distinction between california, where they haven't worked, and florida where they have. why? sen. demint: it would be a longer discussion, but california does game the system. it is very controlled by one party of people who move in and out. they move from one thing to another to an appointed position. there are a lot of people who could explain it better than i. i have been with legislatures all over the country. the vibrancy of those legislatures who are under term limits, all you have to do is go to an event in florida. it is not perfect. it doesn't solve all the problems.
they are thinking about what is best for the state now? what can i do now? they are thinking how they can bump off some of you guys appear and graduate because their term limit is at the state level. whether that is healthy or not, i am not sure. up here, we have a term limit on the republican side. we game that system as certain as they turn that limit. they will go to be chairman of another committee based on seniority. but the problems here are very different than the state. we have particularly as senators very large staff. i have seen as new members come in, they bring a lot of their own people. we need to rotate staff. e can do that. that is not a problem that should keep us from doing something that we know what create a more responsive legislature, more responsive congress here. so i have heard all the excuses, i have seen the analysis of the different states. some do it well, some don't. the bottom line for me after serving here and looking at
all the evidence, direct research as well as anecdotal, is this is one of the most important reforms that we can make. sen. cruz: thank you, senator lee. sen. lee: thank you, chairman and thank you, senator demint. thank you for being here. i have known you for a long time and admire you from afar long before i continue to you as a friend or colleague. i appreciate your message today. it reminds me of a statement that was attributed to saint augustine during his conversion to christianity. he said, lord, grant me chastity and virtue, but not yet. he wanted to wait. it's always easier to wait to do the right thing. it is especially true in washington. you mentioned some of the arguments that are frequently raised in response to the argument for term limits. one is that it is not a panacea. it will not solve every problem, as if to suggest if we can't solve every problem, we should not try to solve this one. what can you tell us based on your experience about how
individual members might behave differently if term limits were on the books and mposed by a constitutional amendment? -- we have e but thea lot about it, freedom that comes from being able to act for your constituents and not to act towards getting a future position on a committee or chairmanship and most of you know, you rock the vote the first year up here which you did, the chances of you going in to elected leadership in the conference go down ramatically. if you come up, the prize was to be a senior member of appropriation. once the earmarks went away, it was not as desirable a committee to be on. to have the seniority means you raise more money. all the lobbyists come to your
fundraisers. that creates an ability for you to raise funding, all of it creates a nexus of power that goes through seniority. we see with corruption, and if i can interject, one of my colleagues handed me a list of 13 former senior members who have been sent to jail because of bribery or corruption here. this is the american government, 13 here. i would like to submit these names for the record, if i could. sen. cruz: without objection. sen. demint: the evidence is here is that seniority stops s from solving things and it allows people to come in and there this new program
is never any other bipartisan agreement. >> that is well said. i appreciate your insight. i appreciate the distinction you drew in your opening testimony between the philosophical arguments for term limits and the practical arguments. it is interesting to think about the fact that this 230-year-old document has functioned well. it has done so in part because of the fact it harnessed human ature. it pitted one faction against another. one branch of government against another so no one person or group of people could get too much power. >> i think they probably did make the right decision when they decided not to put term limites into the original
constitution. there are some things a changed since then or the founding fathers didn't take into account. one might have been the rise of the two-party system and the other might have been the accumulation of power within washington. the transfer of power in the states to washington and then dell gathe out the lawmakering power to someone else. >> the law has changed. if we knew conditions of those serving in the early congresses it would not be necessary to limit terms. it was not full time. it was very little pay. there were no retirement programs or savings programs, limited staff. long travel to get here. it was certainly a sacrifice so folks needed to have other jobs back home or farms or whatever to make things work.
there wasn't quite the danger. now allure here in washington is quite different. you can make it a full time career with decent requirement and post congressional career that can be lucrative. lots of staff. again, it is a very different situation and the money and politics and i think as you alluded to, lee, is the power that has convened here in washington, d.c. from all over the world is here because of the concentration of political power and now we have the concentration of economic power and media power and all of that comes back to the real powers and the seniority within these walls. we cannot fix it with one fell swoop but we can break up a lot of it and change the incentives in a hurry. >> well said. thank you. >> thank you. one final question.
you testified about how public opinion supports term limits 80-20 and this is across racial lines, party lines, independents. when you brought up your support of term limbs before the senate it was voted down 75-24. do you know of another view? the american people support it 80-20 and yet the senate votes it down 75-24. why is it that career politicians in both parties are defying the will of their constituents? >> it is a great question and again, the still a great issue to run on, but a lot of the money, even when you're running for office is not
going to be there if you limit your term. i was told that when i ran for senate. hat a lot of the big pacs will not give to you. they don't want to invest in somebody who is not going to be there very long. thank you mr. chairman. i appreciate your initiative on this issue and i hope it will get some open and honest debate. >> thank you. we'll call up the second panel and proceed immediately to the second panel. >> you mentioned how many other issues the american people support by a wide margin, they support gun legislation and they support abortion. we're not doing anything about hose either. >> if you're going to make a statement i'll at least respond with the facts. the majority of americans
support the right to keep and bear arms and when it comes to abortion, the current position of the democratic party supports partial birth abortion up to the molt of birth with taxpayer funding, 9% of americans agree with the position of today's democratic party. that is an extreme and out of step position. >> i disagree. there are facts to support why i disagree. >> please introduce four witnesses of our second panel. the executive director of the of term limits leaders ack advocacy groups supporting term limits. a campaign to obtain a constitutional amendment for term limitings. nick is a graduate of the university of connecticut and resides in melbourne, florida,
with his family. our second swns professor linda w. powell. professor powell is professor of political science at the university of rochester where she teaches primarily courses on american politics. pheno has won the prize, and the great prize, the best book award of the state politics and policy section of the apsa she has uthored or co-authored works on term limits at the state level. our third witness is professor john d. rosh. he is a professor of political science at texas a&m university near amarillo, texas. he discussed thefects of term
limits at the state level and has written or contributed to numerous books or published articles government america, people, politics and policy. professor rosh received his b.a. from the university of alaska in fairbanks and he wrote his dissertation on term limits at the university of oklahoma. and casey bergott. he researches ands about congressional capacity and ways to make function in congress better. he served in the executive branch operations in the congress and judiciary sections. he holds a b. nambings political science from arizona state university, a masters from george washington university and received his phd in government and politics from the university of
maryland. quick thank you, mr. chairman, and senators for providing me with the opportunity to address this issue. imagine you are an employer and you have a problem with employees. when you hired them ploy ease -- these employees, they said they would do what you asked, but they became a nightmare. they stopped listening and started using the job to line their pockets. they took the company credit card and wrapped up more debt than you can afford. they became so obsessed with keeping their jobs they forgot to do their jobs. after all that disappointment and incompetence, your employees came to you and said, we deserve a raise. if you are a reasonable person, that should make your blood boil. that is exactly what it feels like to be an american taxpayer.
we demand term limits for american congress. 89% ofsupport from republicans and 83% of independent voters. this is not a left or right issue. this is an american issue. term limits could be the only issue with support from both president trump and former president obama. time 25 years ago when congress was debating this. nearly every opponent had the same rebuttal. experience, experience, experience. we need experience to do this job right.
a congressperson will become such a policy expert our problems will be solved. that was one of the worst predictions ever. this system is broken. congress has given us $22 trillion in debt, the longest war in american history, a broken immigration system, a tax code written by lobbyists, an explosion of money in politics. have the courage to address these problems because the only focuses on getting reelected. not is why it comes as surprise congress has a 14% approval rating and a 16% of americans say they would fire every member of congress if they could. congress is less popular than traffic jams and hemorrhoids. you are beating headlights, but the lies have asked for a recount. but the lice have asked for a recount. members of congress publicly
claim elections are free and fair. they did every trick in the book to keep power. incumbents get nine dollars in special interest money for every dollar that goes to a challenger. --y are allowed to spend send campaign style mailers at taxpayer expense, to say nothing of the free name recognition politicians get just for being in office. it creates a barrier to entry for everyday americans without connections to fund a campaign. it is the case for term limits. elections may be capable of dethroning incumbents, that is not how it works in the real world. congress looks more like a country club than a melting pot. it is predominantly made up of lawyers and politicians. us alimits would give legislature that better reflects the diversity of our society. the medsurg -- the message seems
to be we want you just close enough to the process to help us win but don't get too close and take our jobs. the american people have lost confidence in this congress and for good reason. was revealed, it members of congress were secretly using taxpayer money to settle lawsuits, some for sexual harassment. term limits is a check on arrogance, on incumbency, and on power. it is a way to restore political courage while bringing fresh faces and ideas to washington. as ben franklin said, for the rulers to return among the people was not to degrade them, but to promote them. as kanye west said, no one man should have all that power. here is the dilemma we face. 80% of americans want term limits to happen. donald trump and barack obama want it. it is being blocked by the self-interest of congress. if this were a trial, you would have to recuse yourselves.
there is a colossal conflict of interest. if term limits pass, you will not stay in the limelight. you will not be the center of attention. some people might stop laughing at your jokes. you will become ordinary citizens, and that is the entire point. we are asking you to do what is right and listen to the people you represent. it is time to bring the gravy train into the session, and the reign of career politicians, and give congress back to the people. >> thank you for the opportunity to testify on the findings of my academic research on term limits which i began to study in 1995. my relative publications and -- relevant publications, funding sources, and methods are detailed in my written comments. between 1990 and 1995, 21 states adopted legislative term limits and 15 still have them today. the large number of states that adopted term limits presented
political scientists with a rare opportunity to study the effects of a major institutional change. my findings are based on interviews with legislators, two national surveys, and hard data on their elections and so forth. the surveys allowed us to compare four categories of legislators. newcomers and old-timers, each in term limited and non-term limited legislatures. the primary studies were conducted at two points in time. one after the adoption of term limits but before implementation , and the other after its implementation. the legislative career is curtailed by term limits and was expect to alter types of individuals who sought and one office.
notably, there is no support for term limits significantly increasing the proportion of citizen legislators rather than career-oriented politicians. term limit newcomers in the study after implementation were more likely to have held other elected prior office then were non-term limited newcomers. legislators in states with term limits possessed equally strong -- professed equally strong career ambitions. but they needed to run for other office. for example, members and lower chambers more often said they were likely to run for state senate. term limits were similarly expected by many to bring a new -- bring new faces and fresh ideas, yet there were no differences in demographic composition between term limited newcomers and other newcomers. genderined income, race, , and ideological extremism. the adoption of term limits did have an immediate effect on legislative behavior. it was argued that term limits would reduce the incentive to spend time building constituency support for reelection.
we expected and found that members in term limited chamber spent less time on keeping in touch with their constituents on casework. these differences were more pronounced for legislators and chambers in the implementation stage of term limits where members are actually being termed out of office. there was no difference between term limited and non-term limited chambers and time spent on campaigning and fundraising. the strong is findings involved institutional effects. when term limits are implemented in legislators, governors and bureaucrats gained considerable influence at the expense of legislatures. the fact that the effect is delayed until limits actually kick in suggests the effect is a product of the removal of long-term incumbents rather than changing incentives that arise from putting limits on the books. within chambers, most of the decline in the power of majority party leaders occurs immediately after the adoption in term limits.
with only a modest further decline after implementation. the influence of committee chairs begins to decline when term limits are adopted but declines much more later when they are implemented. these results would be consistent with the notion that the authority of speakers and majority leaders is based on control over rewards and sanctions to rank-and-file legislators, whereas the influence of committee chairs is based on deference to policy expertise. term limits immediately undercut the chamber leader's authority by voiding expectations about future ability to reward and sanction. the committee chair's authority declines when the chair, the expert, leaves. much of my recent research has focused on term limits as explanatory factors on other topics. one project on the legislative influence of campaign contributions found that term contributions found in term
limited legislatures were the same or slightly less influence than in non-term limited legislatures. another project sought to understand how legislators come to agreements on difficult issues. in the interviews i conducted, legislatures mentioned term limits as reducing the time they had to build the personal relationships with others legislators that facilitate reaching agreements. the effects of institutional change is complex and hard to fully anticipate and advance. -- in advance. although we are still unraveling the nuances of term limits, i think we have a good understanding of the main effects. here i have outlined my findings. i would be glad to discuss with examples any of them in particularly careerism and campaign contributions. thank you. >> thank you. i would like to thank the subcommittee for allowing me the time to talk a little bit about my experiences with term limits. i'm a professor of political science at west texas a&m university. the ideas and opinions expressed
in the statement are mine alone and not those of west texas a&m or the system. i have been studying term limits for about 30 years. in 1989, i was at the university of oklahoma. i was a graduate fellow at the congressional research center. that fall, an oklahoma businessman began to process -- the process that led to oklahoma and acting the nation's first state legislative term limits in september. i studied term limits for so many years that a graduate colleague regularly tells others that there should be term limits on people who study term limits. my dissertation looks at the first years of the state legislative term limit phenomenon. notice i did not say movement. i have a different perspective on what a movement is versus a phenomenon. i combined a careful view of the news media in states that enacted term limits with interviews of those term limit leaders.
i also published a number of research articles looking at the effects of term limits on electoral competition in oklahoma. i learned about the san mateo county board of supervisors in california. voters in san mateo county enacted term limits on the board of supervisors, a legislative executive body, in 1980. by 1992, the first supervisor would be turned out of office. out of office. in an article, i report that the most significant effect of term limits in san mateo county was that that supervisor spent a lot of time looking for other offices to run for. my research suggests term limits have not had all the positive effects predicted by supporters , but also that they have not had all the negative consequences. so, being a good social scientist, i am squared down the middle. i am neither happy nor sad. since 2000, i have been collecting data, media reports, and other published research on
both oklahoma and san mateo county to expand my research over that 30 to 40 years worth of experience with term limits. by 2020, the san mateo county board of supervisors will have conducted county business under term limits for 40 years. while the oklahoma legislature will have experienced term limits for 30 years. it should provide insight into the positive and negative effects of term limits on legislative bodies. the enactment of term limits has been a boon to research on state legislatures. much of the new research examines any changes brought by term limits by looking at the new relationship between legislatures and constituents, the dynamics of legislative leadership, and the effects on legislative demographics. so, diversity. the most powerful research seeks to understand how term limits affect the work of legislatures with the other branches of state government. a lot of the changes that have been found in california, there
is a research project that found that while political careerism continues, members of the legislature look for other offices. the number of female minority representatives increased in the california legislature, but the legislature was less likely to challenge the governor on his budget. researchers examine more specific questions in oklahoma. for example, legislators seem to be serving longer after term limits were enacted than before. but it is such a small difference of about a year and a half to two years in office. we also take a look at what is called the last term effect. what happens to a legislator or member of congress in their last term? most research has found that there is no significant difference in the activities. they are either not enacting or introducing as much legislation or they are introducing less legislation and focusing on quality versus quantity.
probably the best source if you are looking for information is a really thick book that looks specifically at the state of michigan. they actually looked at term limits for 13 years, interviewed about 460 members of the state legislature, and they essentially found that the legislature has become less accessible to the executive branch, which is very interesting. they have also found that there is a bigger gap now between the and theire constituents. political science needs to better understand how term limits change the status and work of state legislatures. does the length of the limits make a difference? we seem to be holding onto six and 12 when maybe one term in
each body might be an appropriate number. that might make it a more accountable body. i would like to be able to determine that one term limit that best amplifies the positive effects while maintaining the delicate balance between the three branches of government. thank you. >> thank you. >> chairman cruz, members of the subcommittee, thank you for the invitation to testimony -- to testify this afternoon. i am a senior governance fellow at the r street institute where it is my job to identify, study, and right on potential reforms congress might adopt. one commonly advanced reform is limiting by constitutional amendment the number of terms members of congress can serve. it is my goal today to discuss the very real downsides that would result from the implementation of such term limits. first, believe me when i say this is a bit of an uncomfortable position. i understand why term limits are so incredibly popular with the american public. as you know better than most, congress isn't very popular. we have a list of things that
you lose out to today. voters feel unheard by the very officials they choose to be their voice. instead, they seem -- they see craven career politicians for themselves. they feel drowned out by the andy, special interests, swampy ways of doing business, they feel unrepresented by the representatives. it follows that if we limit the number of terms a member can serve, we can stem the tide's that inevitably creep into the best intentioned lawmakers. they really do make sense on the surface. term limits may be great politics, but they are bad for governing. they are far more likely to hamper converses ability to do its job and would exacerbate some of the very problems their adoption is intended to rectify. allow me to turn to specifics. proponents argue that their implementation would accomplish two primary objectives. first, they suggest they would eliminate career politicians who have little incentive to remain responsive to their constituents.
term limits would increase diversity in congress and return it to the citizen legislature that many feel the framers intended. second, they argue they would decrease member reliance on special-interest groups and big-money donors since lawmakers would feel less compelled to court their support. experience with term limits at the state level, because that is all we have, has shown us neither of these objectives would be accomplished. comparing the makeup of legislatures in term limited and non-term limited dates, researchers found no meaningful differences across a host of variables including occupation, family income, age, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation , or candidate ideology. plus, term limited legislatures revealed equally strong ambitions to remain in other elected offices. a finding at odds with the assumption that term limits would approve officials willing to ditch politics and return to the private sector. more important, studies show that once the electoral connection is severed, once we
remove the mechanism of elections, term limited legislatures are actually less concerned with the needs of their constituents and individual districts. term limited lawmakers have been found to spend less time keeping in touch with their constituents , engaging in less constituent service, exert less energy developing policy solutions, and are less likely to show up for votes. importantly, less likely to engage in oversight. the second point, that term limits make legislatures -- to special-interest, lawmakers are more likely to defer to outside .- outsiders the difference outside the chamber is predictable. lawmakers do not have the time or informational capacity to have expertise on all the issues for which they are responsible. they do what any of us would do, when they don't have the answer. we google it or we ask someone
else for help. in practice, they turn to sources such as lobbying shops and executive agencies who maintain that expertise. in either case, the legislature and lawmakers become dependent on unelected outsiders that often come with a partisan agenda. finally, term limits take away from voters a fundamental right to choose their representatives. term limits automatically kick out lawmakers without regard for how supported they are by their constituents. term limits have proven to be a brain drain on legislatures, decreasing their capacity to perform the duties as a coequal branch of government. lawmaking is incredibly difficult and a task for even -- where even the most seasoned lawmakers struggle to come for him the consequences of each vote they take. it is unhelpful and inaccurate portray experience in government as a negative rather than a public benefit. just as in any other profession, from teaching to accounting to surgery, we get better at the job the longer we do the job. could we do better at holding members accountable?
absolutely. jobneither congress's performance, nor the public's dissatisfaction with its work will be improved by forcing out experienced members. thank you, and i look forward to any questions you have. >> your organization, u.s. term limits, has been one of the major groups supporting term limits for congress since the 1990's. can you tell us about how your group got started and involved? >> yeah. term limits is the largest grassroots movement in the history of our country. this has never been a politician driven enterprise. politicians don't like term limits. that's why i think it's such a good idea. this was started in a small group of people across several states in the early 1990's. they were dissatisfied with the quality of government they were getting at the state level and
from congress. they had looked at presidential term limits, which were ratified in the constitution in 1951. said, this has served our country well. this has struck a good balance between getting a fresh face in office without allowing them to become too stale. they developed the concept for legislative term limits at the state level and congressional term limits. it went to the ballots in 23 states and was passed in all 23 states with an average yes vote of 70% without any help from the political class. that is basically how it got started. we formed an organization around this to continue promoting the effort because despite some of what you have heard today, term limits in states have worked very well. states with term limits have the most competitive elections in the country. that is the chief aim. to make elections more competitive. the state with the tightest term
limits, michigan, is the only state in the country with 100% of its elections contested. as for the idea that political experience is more valuable than real-world experience, that is not what we see happening at the state level. among ranking of states by fiscal health, the state with term limits tend to be clustered towards the top. states run by career politicians are at the bottom. i live in florida. we were ranked number one in fiscal health for three consecutive years. we just dropped down to three or four but it's ok. we were beaten by two other term limit states. the results at the state level have borne fruit. i think they would have an even bigger impact here in congress because the political class is even more entrenched. >> one of the benefits of term limits is increasing the diversity of representation. back in 1995, edward h crane testified to this committee that term limits would increase the number and diversity of
americans choosing to run for congress. you testified in particular that in california, term limits probably sped up the increase in female and minority representation. >> that is correct. >> your testimony also cites an article by samantha petit that finds that women are more likely to successfully run for the state legislature in states with term limits. can you tell us a little bit more about that conclusion? >> i can. there is really an interesting point to that conclusion. i would give you the actual percentages but i didn't memorize them. but it is interesting. she did find that -- and we find this in other elections as well -- typically in an open seat election, if it is between a male candidate and female candidate, the female candidate has a better chance of winning. what she found that was particularly interesting and may be more relevant to our
discussion today is that it tended to favor democratic women versus republican women. in an open seat election where the republican woman was running against a democratic male, the democratic male was going to win. so it is sort of a double-edged sword, but definitely, it does show that in an open seat election, women tend to run and win more often. >> i guess it is my understanding that the paper also says, quote, this pattern of women prevailing more often holds for both republican and democratic female candidates. >> i will have to reread it. the summary that i saw showed -- she took the article and made a blog entry at the london school of economics. maybe she misspoke or
mis-summarized her own article, which i cannot believe. she suggested -- maybe she looked at additional elections. it really favors more democratic women than it does republican women. we need to look to see how many republican women run, that might be the other question. >> without objection, we will enter her full article into the record. in your experience, why is there such overwhelming popular support for term limits? why does it cut across party lines? why does it include not just republicans? but independents and democrats the echo -- and democrats he? they produce more women and more minorities in office. why do you see such overwhelming support? x i think we see such overwhelming and bipartisan support because the american people have largely concluded that powerful incumbents in both parties are basically colluding against them to keep newcomers,
fresh faces and ideas, out of the political process. i think that is also leading to a lot of voter apathy in our country. the senator mentioned earlier, finding ways to get more people involved in politics. if elections are a foregone conclusion and 98% of incumbents are going to get return to office every few years, it's a fair question to ask, what's the point? when you have term limits, you are guaranteed a competitive open seat election on a regular basis. voters are guaranteed more options at the ballot box. it is more exciting and in line with what our framers envisioned for how this country should really work. i also think there are record levels of frustration with washington, d.c. we are in several decades of an experiment with professional politicians. by any objective standard, it has failed. things have gotten worse here. not better. >> thank you. >> senator hirono.
>> thank you. let me ask you, i noted some other ways that we can encourage more voter participation which you just cited as a good thing. do you support making voting easier in the united states? >> absolutely. >> do you support making voter registration as simple as possible? >> i do, depending on the details of the proposal. >> assuming they are all citizens. >> do you support stopping unnecessary and discriminatory purging of voters the echo -- of voters? >> absolutely. >> do you support making it easier for people to vote early? >> i would have to see the specifics. not all proposals are created equal. >> we won't get into that. would you condemn discriminatory voter id laws?
an expertmittedly not in voter id laws. i am not going to take a position on that. i would have to do more research. term limits are more my bailiwick. >> it is your bailiwick that you would like to see more voters. would you condemn a discriminatory voter id law that identifies the kind of ids that blacks usually have, that students usually have, and then the voter id law was specifically required different different kinds of ids for these two groups of voters? would you condemn that? >> senator, i unequivocally condemn all times of discrimination against all groups. >> it sounds like you would condemn that kind of a voter id law. >> if that were the law, yes. >> that is indeed the concept underlying a lot of the voter id laws. would you condemn partisan
gerrymandering? >> absolutely. >> do you think we should enact a law to reverse the shelby county decision that eviscerated the voting rights act? >> i am not familiar with that decision. >> it did eviscerate the voting rights act. >> do you think we should counter election fraud? >> in debating the merits of a proposal for congressional term limits, while there may be other ideas out there that also have merit, that does not obviate the need to impose term limits on congress. 82% of americans want to term limits on congress and that is the reason why we are here. >> but there are a huge percentage of american people who support other things congress is not addressing. these are other suggestions and proposals that just like to have i would you on the record to
whether you support it or not. do you support ensuring election security? >> yes. >> let's see. what else? i asked to just now, i went on a list. ont are your thoughts effective ways of achieving the goal of a more transparent and responsive government? >> i think it would include the items that you asked him about, and one i would argue to, i studied campaign-finance for a long period of time. when i have interviewed republican and democratic legislators individually, they are very concerned about the rise of independent spending. i would think that would be additional one. >> yes, whether or not to undo
citizens united. i would agree with that. at,list of things you would -- add, the problem with all of the dark money and unlimited amount of spending that candidates can now engage in as a result of a couple of decisions, recently citizens united. >> very much so. i interviewed one legislator and he was the leader of the senate in a term limited state, a republican and quite conservative. he said i believe in the first amendment, but we have to do something about independent spending. he said, we go home to small towns, we live in small communities, and these are uniformly negative and makes it difficult to come back to congress and work with the other side. the side we know has orchestrated these ads. >> perhaps this committee, or another relevant committee could have a hearing on the corrupting impact of unlimited spending.
one of the things that can happen with term limits is that people have to run for other offices, and i believe in a lot of term limited states, members who are term limited simply run for another public office. is that what your research shows? >> yes it does. i can read you something that exemplifies this. in california, the most professionalized legislature, an assembly man said a lot of people thought term limits would bring in your basic legislature which would serve for a couple of terms and then go back to whatever they were doing before, and that is wrong. most people walk in and they can tell you what senate seat they are running for. i'm going to go to congress this year. people want to do this kind of stuff are professionally oriented. >> we are told michigan is a
very successful term limit state. does this kind of revolving door for elected office, does that not happen in michigan? >> it does. one of my colleagues alluded to done, and theys studied it through 2010. they studied a period where term limits had reached equilibrium. what they concluded was 10 years in office does not state legislator's ambition, and legislators that serve after are likely to serve more. -- term limits -- most of them do not aspire to be citizen legislators. they seek a career in politics and they arrive in the state capitol with plans to accomplish this. this alters michigan's legislature, making it a springboard representatives used still reach the next rung on the ladder. there was also a concern on
careers about other kinds. >> if the chairman will permit, because i am out of time. go ahead. >> the other thing that is a concern is that legislators are naturally concerned about when they leave congress, what are they going to do? how are they going to earn money to send their kids to college, to fund their retirement area many find other careers are more lucrative than the ones they held before they held office. one of the interviews that we in california, the president of the california senate. he said before term limits, the bulk of senators would've been to serve for the foreseeable future. now, many look at statewide office. a few retire, but not many. some lobby or other things. one of the distressing things , and this goes back to the assembly, a chair of a
powerful committee year and a half after his departure is meeting with the executives of that industry to try and secure employment for when his term ends. that is bothersome and we asked is that something widespread? he said, no, but it has happened. mostly, probably, they do not tell. >> thank you. >> i will note the problem that you are highlighting was recently underscored by a report that showed that of the exiting members of congress, the last congress, an excess of 60% of them went to become lobbyists that in turn prompted democratic freshman house member alexandra cortes, she said she
former lobbyists -- former congressman from becoming lobbyists. i agreed and i long advocated a lifetime ban for members to become lobbyists for the same reason i support term limits. both are ways to address the culture of bipartisan corruption , bipartisan corruption, in washington. >> we finally agree. [laughter] >> that is a fabulous thing. withe working representative because io cortez. we will see if we have -- representative ocasio-cortez. let me ask you a final question. introduced,t i have it has 14 cosponsors. as i was looking down the list, two things stand out. number one, every single one of those cosponsors was elected in 2010 or more recently.
in other words, not a single cosponsor was elected prior to 2010. number two, sadly, of the 14 cosponsors, none of them are democrats. you have testified roughly 70% of democratic voters support term limits, and zero democratic senators are supporting a constitutional term limits amendment. why do you think it is that none of the senators elected before 2010 are willing to support this policy that the overwhelming majority of the american people want, and why are the democratic -- and that none of the democratic senators are willing to support this policy that the overwhelming majority of democratic voters want. i cannot go entirely into their motivations, but i can imagine for those who were elected before 2010, there is some feeling there may be viewed as
hypocrites if they cosponsor this legislation. that might be a mistaken understanding of the legislation itself. there are two forms of term limits out there. there is the self term limit when someone runs for congress and says i will voluntarily step down over a certain number of terms. then there are constitutional term limits. that is what sjr one aims to tackle. a constitutional term limit will apply this across the board to every member of congress, and there should be no compunction among more senior members over supporting something like that, because they were elected under a different system. they know seniority is the currency here in washington, d.c. no one should begrudge them using that currency to its fullest advantage. what we are saying is that we want to overhaul the incentives and create an atmosphere of competition and political courage that did not exist before.
with respect to democrats, i do not know precisely why they are not supporting it to a greater extent, but i do say that term limits are consistent with democratic ideals of making elections more fair. right now, the cost of unseating a house incumbent is pegged at $2.5 million by the center for responsive politics. if you have less than $1 million to your name, your odds of winning a seat in congress are 2:293. >> can you repeat that? >> if you have less than $1 million in your campaign account, your odds of unseating a house incumbent are two in 293. >> wow. >> according to open secrets.org , the center for responsive politics. incumbents have rigged the system, they have stacked the deck against outsiders. congress is a career political class, primarily of lawyers and
lifelong politicians, and we are not getting the diversity that our country deserves. where are the teachers serving in congress? where are the doctors, the firefighters, the nurses? if we had term limits, we would get the true citizen legislature that reflects what our country looks like. >> you see, the thing is, we share concerns about corruption, undue influences, all of that. i think that a lot of democrats recognize that term limits will not do the job. and it is the democrats that support changing the campaign spending laws so it does not take $1 million or to change and -- to prevent the kind of gerrymandering, to prevent the kind of voter suppression laws that are being enacted across the states in a pretty fast clip, especially after the shelby county decision.
there are many ways to get at this concern. the thing is that term limits in the legislative assembly makes the executive and others more powerful. that goes to the balance of power that dr.ross talked about and the panelist recognized. i think we all recognize that. thank you. >> i will say is unfortunate senate democrats are perfectly willing to focus on what our -- what are partisan election policies, such as opposing photo id laws for voting, again the overwhelming majority of americans support photo id laws. the the u.s. supreme court in a 6-3 decision upheld indiana's photo id laws. justice john paul stevens , one of the most renowned liberals on the supreme court, writing in the indiana case, said that those photo id laws
protect the integrity of the democratic process, but unfortunately, today's national democratic party politics opposes common sense photo id laws that protect the rights of voters who often see their votes stolen or at risk of being stolen, including often minority voters, hispanic voters, african-american voters who can be the subject of unscrupulous voter fraud, and rather than focusing on an issue which is a pure democratic partisan issue, i do wish that some democrats in the senate were willing to actually take on career politicians in both parties. 70% of democratic voters want term limits. the american people are right on this and i wish that our friends on the democratic side of the aisle in the senate would listen
to their own constituents. >> i could say more about that. >> i want to thank each of the witnesses for coming and testifying. your testimony was helpful. the record will remain open in this matter for two weeks. any senators are asked to submit questions within the next two weeks to witnesses, and witnesses are asked to promptly respond to those questions in writing. with that, this hearing is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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