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GOP Senator and Dem fmr. Governor: It’s time for term limits in Congress

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Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and former Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Penn.) co-authored an op-ed calling for the introduction of a constitutional amendment to set term limits for members of Congress.

“Our elected representatives seem afraid to do anything that would jeopardize their reelection,” the bipartisan Pennsylvanian duo argued. “Term limits allow them to operate without that pressure, secure in the knowledge that they are not risking the position that could be a lifetime career. They would be able to cast votes knowing that the risk they are taking would not jeopardize their entire future.”

The piece, published Tuesday in The Philadelphia Inquirer, seeks to re-energize the movement to introduce term limits for Congress. While not advocating for anything new in particular, Toomey and Rendell lay out a case for term limits and why they think they should be adopted, and they frame their argument in terms of the worsening gridlock.

“We recall a time not too long ago when the House and Senate could regularly put divisions aside to address the big issues facing our country,” they write. “Think of the early 2000s when, in response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, Congress overwhelmingly approved several measures that created the Department of Homeland Security, established more stringent safety guidelines at airports, and helped Ground Zero first responders.”

“Now, in the midst of another crisis, members of Congress frequently focus more on blaming each other than on finding solutions,” the piece continues. “Entrenched politicians have been steering the ship of state for decades and — don’t look now — we’re about to hit a $25 trillion national debt iceberg. It’s time for a new approach.”

For a long while, congressional term limits has had broad, albeit tepid, bipartisan support.

During the 2016 campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump advocated for term limits as part of his plan to “drain the swamp.” In April 2018, President Trump met with a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers who were pushing for term limits, but the effort soon lost steam. Since then, term limits have sunk to the bottom of Washington, DC’s legislative priorities while the gridlock has worsened.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/991028027785138177

Placing term limits on members of Congress would require a constitutional amendment, according to the Supreme Court. Achieving this is the most daunting obstacle for the movement.

For this to happen: either two-thirds of Congress has to vote to ratify such an amendment, or at least 34 state legislatures have to apply for a constitutional convention to kick off the long, grueling process. Moreover, once a constitutional convention has drafted an amendment, 38 state legislatures have to ratify it before it’s tacked onto the Constitution.

However, the movement’s fiercest opposition is the very person they would need on their side to make this work: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The three-decade lawmaker opposed term limits, saying at a 2016 press conference, “I would say we have term limits now. They’re called elections. And it will not be on the agenda in the Senate.”

With Senate Republicans going all-in on appointing Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before November 3, there’s likely no room on the agenda for term limits in the near future.

While using the gridlock brought about by the pandemic as a pretext for introducing term limits, the cornucopia of issues brought about by this very pandemic has denied term limits receiving even a scant moment in the spotlight. But, the pandemic won’t last forever. Once this chaos ultimately subsides, perhaps term limits will finally find their moment under the sun. But that will have to wait for now.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Oklahoma passes bill banning majority of abortions from ‘moment of fertilization’

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Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law on Wednesday which bans virtually all abortions “from the moment of fertilization.”

“I promised Oklahomans that as governor I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk and I am proud to keep that promise today. From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother,” Stitt said in a statement. “That is what I believe and that is what the majority of Oklahomans believe.”

The state legislature first approved the bill, which goes into effect immediately, last week. It bans abortions from the moment of fertilization, except for in cases where rape or incest occurred, or where the mother’s life is in danger.

The law also allows for private citizens to sue doctors or those who participate in “producing an abortion for up to $10,000, mimicking the enforcement mechanism in Texas’s fetal heartbeat law” reports National Review.

Under the new law it is a felony offense to perform an abortion, “which will take effect in August unless a court challenge blocks it.”

 

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