Reps. Pappas and Tauscher
February 19, 1997
in this forum:
How should Congress deal with entitlements? How do you tell a vital project from "pork"? Is the DNC financing scandal worse than those in the past or are they just getting noticed? Are term limits the way to go? REP. PAPPAS: Will the recent DNC scandal change the way fundraising is done? REP. TAUSCHER: What is the government's role in developing the nation's information infrastructure? REP. PAPPAS: How did you vote on term limits, population control, and a balanced budget amendment?
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A question from Malcolm Farnsworth of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:
Do the Freshmen members agree with the proposition that term limits is a dangerous subversion of the democratic process, with the potential to rob Congress of valuable experience amongst its membership and allow powerful interest groups to hold even more power over the Congress? Given the high turnover of members experienced in the past three congressional elections, do they agree that the term limits campaign merely panders to a perceived cynicism about politics?
Rep. Ellen Tauscher responds:
Although I cannot speak for the freshman class as a whole on this issue, I myself believe that the nation already has term limits inherent in the Constitution, Article One Section two which allows the people to chose Congressional representation every second year. During the last three election cycles, 78, 88 and 114 Members have respectively not returned to Congress to continue service either through retirement, defeat or attempt to run for another office. In my view, the people have the right to chose their representatives, and the institutional memory provided by those with seniority is an invaluable asset to the governance of our nation.
Rep. Mike Pappas responds:
While I cannot speak for my fellow first term colleagues, I do agree that term limits are indeed a subversion of the democratic process. I believe that we already have term limits in the form of elections that occur every two years. I maintain that we must trust the voice of the people. Term limits silence that voice and take the decision-making process away from the people.
I agree that term limits would also deprive Congress of institutional knowledge that comes from statesmen-like members like Henry Hyde and John Dingell. Term limits would also concentrate power in large states like California, New York, Florida and Texas. In absence of a seniority system, New Jersey and smaller states would have a difficult time competing with these states.