Donald Trump wants term limits for members of Congress. He also wants to impose restrictions on former lawmakers and other public officials from going into the lobbying business. Mr. Trump stated it’s “time to drain the swamp in Washington D.C.”
Term limits popular with public
The concept of term limits for members of the House of Representatives and Senate has attracted widespread support among the public for years. Not surprisingly, neither the House nor the Senate has embraced the idea, which would require an Amendment to the Constitution.
6% of the public have faith in Congress
A Gallup poll taken in 2013 revealed that the American public supports term limits for members of Congress by a margin of 75% to 21%. While that poll is several years old, support for term limits has likely increased in the last several years as Congress is widely seen by the public as an ineffective and self-serving institution. Another Gallup poll released in June 2015 revealed that Congress ranks dead last in the list of institutions that the country has confidence in. Only 6% of the public says they have “quite a lot of confidence in the Congress.” This contrasts with 73% of the public that has strong trust in the military and 56% who have confidence in the police.
If I am elected President, I will push for a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress. Decades of failure in Washington and decades of special interest dealing must and will come to an end. — Donald Trump
Trump later elaborated on his proposal by calling for limiting House members to a maximum of six years (3 terms) and Senators to 12 years (2 terms). Trump also called for imposing restrictions on members of Congress and the executive branch to prevent them from transitioning into lobbying jobs.
Counter argument to term limits
The counter argument to term limits is that they empower lobbyists, encourage short-term governing, and restrict the choice of the people to elect whomever they want. Fifteen states have imposed term limits in their state legislatures.
The strongest overall trend in the impact that term limits have on laws is that they have brought a fundamental shift in power from the legislative to the executive branch. When legislative terms are limited, governors and their agency staff fill the power vacuum. — The Washington Post
Nevertheless, Trump’s proposals are apt to play well in most of the country which sees Washington D.C. as an out of touch fiefdom committed to self-preservation rather than the good of the country.
Trump outlined a five-point plan that would, in his words, “drain the swamp" in Washington D.C.
First: I am going to re-institute a 5-year ban on all executive branch officials lobbying the government for 5 years after they leave government service. I am going to ask Congress to pass this ban into law so that it cannot be lifted by executive order.
Second: I am going to ask Congress to institute its own 5-year ban on lobbying by former members of Congress and their staffs.
Third: I am going to expand the definition of lobbyist so we close all the loopholes that former government officials use by labeling themselves consultants and advisors when we all know they are lobbyists.
Fourth: I am going to issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.
Fifth: I am going to ask Congress to pass a campaign finance reform that prevents registered foreign lobbyists from raising money in American elections.
These are certainly steps in the right direction, and Common Cause certainly agrees with them and would like to see them enacted. — Aaron Scherb, Common Cause
Trump is hoping that his proposals for Congressional term limits and restrictions on lobbying will solidify his ‘outsider’ reputation with voters and provide a populist spark to the final days of his campaign.