Term limits for Congress

By John Eichelberger and Andy Dinniman

Until Franklin Roosevelt, no president had served more than two elected terms in office. It was a tradition established by George Washington. Two presidents prior to FDR had sought to do so – Ulysses S. Grant and Woodrow Wilson – and had failed in even securing their party’s nomination. Roosevelt, citing his importance in World War II, ran for an unprecedented third term and then a fourth term even though he was ill (he died 82 days into his fourth term).

After his presidency, there were widespread calls to establish a constitutional amendment to set term limits for the president. Roosevelt’s successor, Harry Truman ,who was an advocate of term limits for both the presidency and Congress, supported this initiative. When Congress appeared reluctant to pass an amendment setting terms for the presidency, the states started to act by calling for a constitutional amendment. As the states were nearing the two-thirds majority needed to force Congress to act, Congress decided it was in its best interest to address the issue. This was the genesis of the 22nd Amendment, which was ratified on Feb. 27, 1951.

Harry Truman, who was president when the 22nd Amendment was ratified, was grandfathered in, so the amendment did not affect him. However, Truman believed two terms were enough for any occupant in the White House. Believing that since he had served all but 82 days of Roosevelt’s fourth term plus one full term, he had served two terms, and opted not to run again in 1952. Truman hoped that Congress would further act on term limits for itself after the 22nd Amendment was ratified in 1951 but has failed to do so.

Today we celebrate Feb. 27 as National Term Limits Day. We do this to raise awareness of today’s most popular and bipartisan issue – congressional term limits. A recent Pew Research poll showed 87% of Americans regardless of political affiliation support congressional term limits. Yet despite this overwhelming support, Congress refuses to act on congressional term limits. Recently, House Joint Resolution 11 by Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina with over 100 co-sponsors, which would have set terms for the House of Representatives at 3 terms (6 years) and the Senate at 2 terms (12 years) was defeated by a committee vote of 19-17.

So, if Congress won’t pass term limits what can be done? Just as with the debate over presidential terms, the states can take the initiative, calling for a convention to adopt a congressional term limits amendment. When enough states request a convention to add a congressional term limits amendment to the Constitution, Congress is bypassed, and the amendment can be proposed by the states for ratification. Or Congress might see what is happening and act as it did with the 22nd Amendment.

Six states – Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and West Virginia – have called for a limited convention to propose a congressional term limits amendment to the Constitution. In Pennsylvania, state Sen. Jarrett Coleman has filed Senate Resolution 225. This resolution would have Pennsylvania join other states in calling for a convention for proposing a congressional term limits amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In addition, Pennsylvania state House Rep. Jared Solomon has signed on as the House sponsor of House Resolution 183.

This National Term Limits Day, events were held throughout the nation to bring attention to the need for congressional term limits. If term limits are good enough for the president, why not for Congress?

Happy Term Limits Day and let’s finish the job and get term limits for Congress. ••

John Eichelberger and Andy Dinniman are former Pennsylvania state senators and Pennsylvania state co-chairs for U.S. Term Limits.

Letters to the Editor

More severe punishment

The unnecessary and selfish personal dispute shooting that occurred during the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade was an unfortunate event. Safety, at any event, whether in public or behind closed doors, is always in question. Having empathy and a caring heart for your fellow citizen is very much needed in our world today. Punishment for having and using a firearm should be more severe than ever. Innocent people should not be hurt or lose their life because of the careless, heartless act of someone else.

Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves, Gov. Michael L. Parson and Mayor Quinton Lucas need to make sure that celebration rallies in Kansas City do not erupt ever again. 

Similar to our state of Pennsylvania, Gov. Josh Shapiro, Lt. Gov. Austin Davis and Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Joanna McClinton have to find more aggressive ways to combat the gun violence plaguing our whole state of Pennsylvania. 

All people need to start being responsible for others again.

Alim Howell

Meals from all over the globe

It really made my mouth water to read Mark Zimmaro’s front-page report on the week of special culinary surprises on East Passyunk Avenue (“Restaurant Week on East Passyunk,” Feb. 21). As a lifelong resident of this neighborhood, I welcome the diversity of new restaurants that have opened in this area. No wonder there are crowds of visitors strolling up and down the Avenue especially on weekends.

As usual, this unique event, from Feb. 26 to March 8, is presented by the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District under the direction of new executive director Rebecca O’Leary. The combination of old and new is especially appealing and a chance for visitors to sample a wide variety of menus.

I was especially impressed that Zimmaro’s report included the list of participating restaurants. The variety of choices from all over the globe is truly outstanding. What a change from the days of my youth when local restaurants were mostly Italian. Now we can get meals from every hemisphere.

Am so proud to live in such a vibrant and welcoming community where an assortment of cultures contribute to a sense of brotherhood and mutual cooperation. 

Of course we must thank the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District and its new director Rebecca O’Leary for continuing this exciting tradition. And of course many thanks to Mark Zimmaro for alerting us to this wonderful event. 

Gloria C. Endres