Voluntary Term Limits? You FirstRichard S. Dunham
A GENERATION GAP OF SORTS has opened up between House Republicans over term limits. Now that the constitutional amendment on the issue has met defeat, nine rookie and second-term House members are pushing for voluntary term limits. They are willing to vow they will leave Capitol Hill after six terms (12 years). The group, led by Republicans Bob Franks of New Jersey and Stephen Largent of Oklahoma, is challenging other lawmakers--Republicans and Democrats--to follow suit.
Guess what? They have found no takers among Republican leaders, including House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), now serving his ninth term, and House Majority Leader Richard Armey (R-Tex.), a six-termer. Could it be the Old Guard smells a plot by the Young Turks to move up the leadership ladder faster if the senior members move aside?
The GOP's Old Guard has its own rationale for opposing purely voluntary term limits. Four-term Representative John Boehner of Ohio, the fourth-ranking House Republican, explains that top Republicans would be foolish to agree to what is essentially political suicide unless the folks on the other side of the aisle do the same. Says Boehner: "I have never believed in unilateral disarmament."