Fitzpatrick Renews Call for Congressional Term Limits

Bipartisan Group of Freshmen Lawmakers Demand Constitutional Amendment

September 24, 2018

Washington, DC—Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Jodey Arrington (R-TX) discussed the need for a Constitutional amendment that would limit the number of terms an individual may serve in the United States Congress. They were joined by Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA).

Click HERE to watch Rep. Fitzpatrick demand a vote on Term Limits

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick Remarks, as delivered.

Mr. Speaker, I am doing something a little bit unconventional here. I am actually speaking from the left side of the aisle in a sign of solidarity with our good friend and colleague, Ro Khanna, on an issue that, as Jodey Arrington pointed out, doesn't just unite Americans, it unites 80 percent of Americans. Eighty percent. How many issues are out there that enjoy the support of 80 percent of the American people?

A lot of our colleagues here, when you are dealing with the rigors of  this job, say one thing, give you one piece of advice: Never forget why you ran. Just remember that theme that caused you to make that difficult decision. I think that the reason we all ran was this: term limits to fix a broken system. The genesis of that desire, the genesis of that belief may vary amongst many of us. I can tell you where it came from with me, Mr. Speaker, and that was my time running the political corruption unit at FBI headquarters right down this road here, where you are responsible for a lot of cases.

Like many jobs, when you go home at night, sometimes you take a step back and you think: Well, if I were ever given the opportunity to have a policymaking role to change this brokenness, what would I do? At the top of that list, Mr. Speaker, was legislative term limits.

 You heard my friend and colleague, Jodey Arrington, talk about George Washington, my favorite President ever, for this very reason: he set this tradition in motion. He said he only wanted to serve one term, go back to his farm in Mount Vernon, live under the laws he helped pass, make way for a new generation of leadership. That is the most organic way to serve a democracy. It is the healthiest form of democracy.

 They talked him into a second term. He said: No more. It was a tradition that every single President honored, up until FDR served four terms, at which point Congress passed the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution. But true to form, they applied it to the executive. They did not apply it to themselves.

We need a constitutional amendment for term limits in this country.Is there anybody in this Chamber who does not agree with this very basic principle, this very basic premise, that more organic change in this organization, in this body, is a good thing?

 Mr. Speaker, in the FBI, we had term limits in the Bureau. If you were a supervisor, you had to serve up to 7 years--no more, not a day longer than 7 years. Do you lose some good people? Of course, you do. Overall, did it benefit the institution? You bet you it did. You bet you it did. It brought people in from different places, different perspectives, different educational backgrounds. They had an opportunity to serve and lend their area of expertise. That is a good thing for this institution. It is a good thing for our country. It is not just from the corruption standpoint; it is from the getting along standpoint.

I can tell you how proud I am of this freshman class--so proud. I am particularly proud of Ro Khanna, mostly because he is from Bucks County--the most special place in America, I might add--and now representing Silicon Valley. Here you have an issue. Ro and I come from different parties. We checked different boxes on our voter registration form when we were 18 years old. We grew up in the same community; we care about the same things; and we have an issue here that unites us. Jodey Arrington, a very wise man, identified this--and I couldn't agree more--as a root issue. So much of what we deal with in this House, so much of what we deal with in this country are symptoms. It is symptomatic of what the root issues are. The root issues get to the functionality of this body.

 The Problem Solvers Caucus introduced a Break the Gridlock package essential to changing the way things operate here. The government reform, anticorruption legislation that several Members have introduced, myself included, on term limits, on dealing with things like no budget, no pay, these are important things that will fundamentally change the way this body works. And when we do that, we will win back the trust and support of the American people, too many of whom have lost faith in this institution--and for good reason.

  We can make those changes. This is Exhibit A of what we need to do to fix a broken system, to restore that trust. Mr. Speaker, it is an 80 percent issue. How dare we not address, on the floor of this House, an issue that addresses the root cause of our problems that is supported by 80 percent of the American people. We have to get this done. I want to thank my colleague, Jodey. This is an issue that fires both of us up. We talk about it every single day we are on the floor of the House of Representatives: my friend Mike Gallagher from Wisconsin, who did the first Special Order on term limits shortly after we got sworn in, and my friend Ro Khanna, who has shown incredible courage. This is a man who could serve here for a long, long time, but he is making a courageous decision to stand for what is right, what is good for this institution, what is good for this country. God bless Mr. Khanna for doing that.

The bipartisan group of Members that joined Fitzpatrick stated the following:

Congressman Jodey Arrington (R-TX): “Our founders never intended these public servants to be career professional politicians. They didn't want a permanent political class to rule the land from Washington. Instead, they envisioned this sort of ‘citizen legislator’ way of leading, in serving, then living back among our brothers and sisters.”

Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI): “It’s my belief that the founders intended service at the federal level to be a season of service… Good citizens who love this country aren’t even willing to run because they see it as such an insurmountable task. That shows how far we’ve gotten away from the model of the citizen legislature.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA): “If you have term limits and if you take the careerism out of it and if people know they will have about a decade to have an impact, you’re going to encourage more efforts to find that common ground, more efforts to be willing to compromise when it makes sense to the nation, to look for some overlap in issues.”