ENGLISH FOR CONGRESS POSITION PAPER (Revised April 2014)
Congressional Term Limits, Interaction, and Mandatory Retirement
Some states have term limits for their Congressional representatives, others don't. Because leadership roles in the Congress are based upon seniority, states with term limits are at a disadvantage compared to states without term limits because their influence in Congress is diminished. Seniority governs which members become committee chairmen and Congressional leaders. Committee chairmen control which legislation gets introduced, discussed, and brought to the floor for consideration. There have been instances when aged members of Congress have had to be carried onto the floor to conduct discussion and other spectacles of obvious infirmity which calls into question the fitness and competence of the aged members to function intelligently and rationally when conducting the nation's affairs.
The increasing polarization of Congress has resulted in an unproductive and dangerous atmosphere in which the nationís affairs have been severely harmed by the failure to implement sound and beneficial legislation. The lack of social interaction on the chamber floors of the Congress and elsewhere has furthered the sense of isolation and suspicion that permeates the interpersonal relationships among the members which greatly diminishes their abilities to discuss, understand, and come to mutually acceptable compromises and agreement for the passage of meaningful and effective legislation. Many legislators keep their families at home in their districts, then return on weekends and non-work periods, and thus have minimal contact with each other both at work and at other times. There is a need to require all members of Congress and the Senate to reside in a designated residential Congressional compound while each House is in session. I suggest that two such compounds be located in close proximity to the Capitol building on Federal property located at the Navy Yard, Fort McNair, Bolling Air Force Base, or other suitable locations. Townhouses and apartments would be provided at no cost to all members of Congress for their exclusive use throughout the entire period that they are in office. The report that some members of Congress have to sleep on couches in their offices because of personal financial constraints is appalling. Meeting rooms and staff office facilities also should be provided in these compounds to facilitate after hours work sessions, social activities, etc. Furthermore, all members of Congress must be present on the floor of their respective chambers at least 60% percent of the time that they are officially in session. The spectacle of members giving speeches before mostly empty chambers negates the communal function of Congress as an effective functional national legislative institution and is an insult to the citizens of this country.
I propose that a Constitutional Amendment be introduced for consideration that would limit combined service in one or both houses of the Congress to 25 years total, with a mandatory retirement age of 80. Legislators pay and benefits should be the same as that of Federal employees under the retirement system in place when they first are elected, which is integrated with and supplements their Social Security accounts and retirement benefits. Finally, if the Catholic Church requires resignation of bishops at age 75 and cardinals at age 80, why shouldn't the Congress of the United States also establish similar retirement age limits? ( Please read the Public Funding of Elections Issue paper).