Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gop Is Cooling on Term Limits despite `Contract,' Lawmakers Reluctant to Give Up Their Jobs

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gop Is Cooling on Term Limits despite `Contract,' Lawmakers Reluctant to Give Up Their Jobs

Article excerpt

House Republicans, committed to a first-ever vote on congressional term limits, are having second thoughts about limiting their own stays in Washington.

The man who likely will be the new House majority leader, Rep. Dick Armey of Texas, suggested that public support for term limits might wane now that the GOP would control Congress. If Republicans "can straighten out the House," he said in a recent interview, Americans may not be so enthusiastic about a constitutional amendment limiting the time a person may serve in Congress.

"They don't want to go home, they love this job," said Cleta Mitchell of the Term Limits Legal Institute in explaining the difficulty of getting the two-thirds majority in both chambers needed to pass a constitutional amendment to limit terms.

The House Republicans' "Contract with America" that lays out their agenda for their first 100 days in power promises a vote on term limits, which many Republicans made a key issue in their successful runs for congressional seats.

House Speaker Thomas S. Foley's opposition to term limits was a major factor in his loss to his Republican challenger, George Nethercutt Jr.

But already there are signs that the Republicans, back in power in the House for the first time in 40 years, are not that eager to give up their jobs.

Armey said in a recent National Public Radio interview that he supported term limits because the House had performed so poorly in recent years but that he did so "with a terrible amount of reluctance."

"I think Americans will find their enthusiasm for term limits waning quite a bit," the Texas lawmaker said, if the Republicans "can straighten out the House."

Another Republican, Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the probable speaker of the House and the chief promoter of the "Contract with America," also has dismayed some term-limit advocates by saying the legislation would not be retroactive, thus relieving current members of immediate concern about their future employment.

Mitchell said that even with a groundswell of public support for term limits, getting the two-thirds majority of both houses needed for a constitutional amendment would be tough. …

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