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Trump Proposes Term Limits For Congress

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally Tuesday in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Theo Stroomer
Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally Tuesday in Colorado Springs, Colo.

How would Donald Trump "drain the swamp" in Washington as he puts it? Two words: term limits.

At a rally in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Trump said if elected in November he will "push for a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress."

Trump did not elaborate on how many terms lawmakers could serve. The idea of capping how long lawmakers can spend in Washington is popular with many in the GOP and has been proposed before, most notably as part of the Republicans' "Contract with America" in 1994. The measure was taken up by the GOP-led House after that election but didn't come close to winning the necessary 2/3 majority to send it to the Senate.

That proposal would have limited House members to two two-year terms and senators to two six-year terms. Several states have successfully enacted term limits for their legislatures.

Trump's proposal comes a day after he offered a five-point package of ethics reforms:

  • Instituting a five-year ban on all executive branch officials from lobbying the government after they leave government service. (Currently officials are barred from lobbying the agency they leave for one or two years, depending on their seniority.)
  • Calling on Congress to impose its own five-year ban on former members and their staffs from lobbying. (Currently the prohibition is one year for House members and two years for senators.)
  • Expanding the definition of a lobbyist to close the loopholes that Trump says allow former government officials to label themselves consultants and advisers "when we all know they are lobbyists."
  • Issuing a lifetime ban on senior executive branch officials from lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.
  • Asking Congress to pass campaign finance reform that would prevent registered foreign lobbyists from raising money in American elections.
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Corrected: October 17, 2016 at 11:00 PM CDT
    In a previous version of this story, we incorrectly identified the 1994 "Contract with America" as the "Contract for America." Additionally, we incorrectly said that the term limits measure had not received the 2/3 vote necessary to send it to the states. We meant to the Senate.
    NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
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