Freshman Va. Congressman pushes term limits

Freshman Va. Congressman pushes term limits
Fifth District representative Denver Riggleman has proposed term limits for members of Congress.

(GRAY TV) - Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) is pushing to limit how many times members of Congress can run for re-election.

Riggleman said shaking up the system could create a more fair representation on Capitol Hill. The latest Gallup poll shows 77% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job.

“It’s very difficult because you have entrenched politicians who want things to stay the same,” Riggleman said.

Riggleman is backing a bill that would move forward with a constitutional amendment limiting members of the U.S. House of Representatives to three, two-year terms. Senators could only serve two six-year terms.

“This is an uphill battle and you don’t want to do something symbolic, you want to do something meaningful and if it draws attention to those to get involved….so other people can serve, I think it’s a victory,” Riggleman said.

While Riggleman says the effort could encourage more transparency and accountability in DC, George Washington University’s Steve Billet, a former lobbyist and director of legislative affairs at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, says the intentions of this may be pure, but he thinks ultimately it empowers outside influences.

“Lobbyists would feed on this kind of a Congress, with all of these rookies around…Congress would be easy pickings for the lobbyists,” Billet, said.

Critics also say there already is a check on Congress: having to face re-election. Billet said experienced legislators can also be a powerful voice for under-served communities, and key experts on certain issues. In his view, term limits could remove forceful advocates from the public.

“I’m not so sure this is a great idea all the way around. It’s certainly something worth examining,” Billet said.

Right now, the proposal only has a small fraction of the support it would need to get through Congress, and 38 states would need to sign on as well.

Riggleman said he does not plan on staying in Congress as a career politician, but he does intend to seek a second term when he’s up for re-election in 2020.

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