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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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After 3 days, 12 jurors for Trump alleged hush money trial have been chosen

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What was anticipated to take up to two weeks has concluded in only three days. 12 jurors have been chosen for the trial against former President Donald Trump, who has been charged by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. The charges surround alleged hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all counts, stating the trial is “political persecution.” The former president is expected to testify during his trial, and Fox News has published a list with what is known of the individuals:

Juror #1 and the foreperson: lives in New York City but is originally from Ireland. He has no children and enjoys doing anything outdoorsy. He gets his news from the New York Times, Daily Mail, Fox News and MSNBC.

When asked by Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche if he was aware Trump is charged in other cases and jurisdictions, and how that affects him, the man said, “I don’t have an opinion.”

Juror #2 Is a man who said he follows Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen on “X,” formerly known as Twitter, as well as other “right wing” accounts, including former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

The reason, he said, he follows those figures was so he could be plugged in to “anything that might move the markets I might need to know about.”

When asked if he would unfollow Cohen, as he may be a witness in the trial, the man said: “absolutely.”

The man also said he has “not seen any evidence” relating to the case.

“I will try to keep an open mind,” he said.

Responding to questions from Trump lawyer Susan Necheles about his feelings about the former president, the man said that Trump has done some good for the country.

“It’s ambivalent,” he said. “It goes both ways.”

The first person who was labeled juror #2 was excused Thursday morning after saying she could not be a fair juror.

Juror #3 is a young to middle-aged Asian man who lives in Manhattan. The man said he grew up in Oregon and has been an attorney for five years practicing corporate law. The man said he enjoys hiking and running, and gets his news from The New York Times and Google.

Juror #4 is originally from California, but has lived in New York City for 15 years. The man said he has been a security engineer for 25 years and holds a high school diploma, with some college education.

The man is married with three children. His wife is a teacher.

During his spare time, he enjoys being with his children, woodworking, and metal working.

The man said he has served on a jury before — on both a grand jury and a jury in a criminal trial.

The man said he gets his news from “a smattering” of news sources. As for social media, he said he doesn’t use it.

The man said he has a relative who works in finance and brothers-in-law that work as lawyers.

The man said he has no feelings about how Trump is being treated in this case.

The person who was first labeled as Juror #4 was excused Thursday morning after it was revealed that he had been previously arrested in Westchester, N.Y., for tearing down right-wing political advertisements.

Juror #5 is young and a New York native who has been a teacher of English Language Arts for eight years.

The woman was previously a caseworker at a juvenile detention center. She said she has a masters’ degree in education.

“I’m creative at heart,” she said, adding that she enjoys photography.

The woman said that she is not married and does not have children. Her mother was an administrative aide for a police department, and her godfather was a homicide detective.

The woman said she gets her news from Google and TikTok.

She was asked if Trump chose not to testify, whether she would hold that against him.

“I won’t hold that against him,” she said.

She explained that she has friends who have strong opinions on the former president but said she is not a political person and tries to avoid political conversations.

She did say, however, that she appreciates Trump’s candor.

“President Trump speaks his mind, and I’d rather that than someone who’s in office who you don’t know what they’re thinking,” she said.

When jurors were asked if they were aware Trump was charged in other cases than Bragg’s, most jurors were. However, juror #5 raised her hand to indicate that she was learning of additional charges for the first time.

Juror #6 is a young woman who lives in Manhattan. She described herself as a New Yorker. The woman is a software engineer and said she likes to dance.

Juror #7 is originally from North Carolina and works as an attorney and civil litigator.

The man said he is married with two children, and his wife works in risk management for a bank. He said he enjoys spending time outdoors and with his family.

The man said he gets his news from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post and the Washington Post.

When asked if his career as a lawyer would impact his ability to serve fair and impartially, or whether his opinions would get in his way, the man said that he does have “political views as to the Trump presidency” and said there were likely Trump administration policies he disagreed with.

“I don’t know the man and I don’t have any opinions about him personally,” he said.

As for his career as a lawyer, he said he does not have any opinions about Trump’s character.

“I certainly follow the news,” he said. “I’m aware there are other lawsuits out there. But I’m not sure that I know anyone’s character.”

Juror #8 has been selected. Information on this juror is not yet available.

Juror #9 is a woman who lives in Manhattan. She is originally from New Jersey and works as a speech therapist.

The woman is not married and does not have children. She said she likes to spend time with friends, go to restaurants, and go on walks.

The woman said she has never served on a jury before, and does not watch the news or follow current events too closely. The woman said she did, though, have email subscriptions to CNN and The New York Times. She said she follows social media accounts, listens to podcasts, and enjoys reality television.

The woman said she does not listen to talk radio.

The woman said she can be fair and impartial. She said she does have opinions about Trump, but said she believes she can put them aside and be fair and impartial.

Juror #10 is a man who lives in Manhattan. He was born and raised in Ohio and works in commerce for a large company. The man has a college degree.

The man said he is not married and has no children, but lives with another adult who works in accounting.

The man said he enjoys being outdoors and loves animals.

The man said he does not really follow the news, but listens to podcasts on behavioral psychology.

The man said he has no strong opinions on how Trump is treated in this case.

Juror #11 has been selected. Information on this juror was not immediately available.

Juror #12 has been selected. Information on this juror was not immediately available.

 

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