While laying in bed on Sunday evening trying to recover from the world’s worst cold, I got an e-mail from a family member with a link to a story with the headline — “Abolish Presidential Term Limits Bill Introduced.” The family member remarked, “Well, here you go! If this is true, the first move has been made toward Obama’s third term.”
This story has been out on Facebook and Twitter over the last couple of days and, frankly, the reaction is a bit absurd. H.J.Res. 15, introduced by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), would indeed repeal the 22nd Amendment, which was ratified in 1951.
The 22nd Amendment states:
Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.
But not many realize that Serrano has introduced this constitutional amendment in every Congress since 1997 — stretching back to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush’s presidencies.
And Snopes notes that Serrano, who has served in the House of Representatives since 1993, isn’t the only member of Congress to introduce repeal of the 22nd Amendment. In fact, it has been a bipartisan idea:
Other members of Congress who have offered similar proposals in the last twenty years include the following:
- Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts (Democrat): 1995, 1997, and 1999 (all during the presidency of Bill Clinton).
- Rep. David Dreier of California (Republican): 1997 (during the presidency of Bill Clinton).
- Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York (Democrat): 1995 (during the presidency of Bill Clinton).
- Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (Republican): 1995 (during the presidency of Bill Clinton).
- Rep. Guy Vander Jagt of Michigan (Republican): 1991 (during the presidency of George H.W. Bush).
- Rep. Martin Sabo of Minnesota (Democratic-Farmer-Labor): 1991 (during the presidency of George H.W. Bush).
According to our survey, not a single one of these proposals was ever so much as brought to a vote before Congress (they were all referred to committee and languished there), much less passed and sent to the states for ratification.
The reasons this constitutional amendment won’t be passed are pretty obvious, but most importantly, history says that Congress has no appetite for the idea. Personally, I like the idea of repealing the 22nd Amendment, making the president a one-term deal for, say, four or five years.
Fretting over Rep. Serrano’s irrelevant proposal is colossal waste of time when could be spending time and energy into educating friends and family members about, as Warner Todd Huston put it, “Obama’s lawlessness presidency.”