Rep. Jose Serrano (NY-15) has been a very busy Congressman this session already. He has introduced ten legislative agendas for votes in the 113th Congressional session. Representative Serrano wants to reduce “duplicative and burdensome administrative requirements” within the supplemental food assistance programs (H. R. 208). He would like to lift restrictions and embargoes on Cuba (H. R. 214 & 215). He has proposed legislation to “waive the requirement for proof of citizenship during the first year of life for children born in the United States to a Medicaid-eligible mother” (H. R. 211). And he thinks that members of the House of Representatives should be allowed to donate used computers to educational institutions (H. R. 212).
But his most controversial legislation this year has been House Judiciary Resolution 15, or H. J. Res. 15, offered up on January 4th. The resolution is a call to repeal the twenty second Amendment of the US Constitution.
This amendment, which was passed in 1947 and ratified by the states in 1951, sets term limits on the President of the United States. After Franklin Delanor Roosevelt died just shortly after beginning his fourth term as President, the idea of limiting the term of office for Presidents became a law.
When George Washington had been urged to run for a third term, he made it clear he had no intention of doing so. One of his reasons being he felt it was important that an orderly transition of power as set forth in the Constitution be made, thus solidifying its importance and legitimacy. In fact, early statesmen such as Richard Henry Lee and George Mason, both from Virginia, felt strongly about legal limits to tenure. Lee said that a lack of limits in office were "most highly and dangerously oligarchic." Mason advised limits on reelection to the Senate and to the Presidency, because there was "nothing is so essential to the preservation of a Republican government as a periodic rotation."
Until Roosevelt, the two term limit was an unwritten rule of the land and had been respected by every office holder for nearly 150 years. After 1951, it became the law of the land.
The Resolution to do away with this time honored and important limiting of centralized power was sent to the House Judiciary Committee for review.
Serrano has offered up such legislation in 2009 and in 2012. Just like those attempts, there is no co-sponsor on his latest resolution.
On Monday morning, Sarah Wolf, a spokesperson for Rep. Tom Marino (PA-10) - a member of the House Judiciary Committee - stated that this legislation was looked upon as a “completely unserious proposal.”
Wolf went on to say that Congressman Marino does not support this legislation, and is “actually in favor of implementing term limits on U.S. Senators and Representatives.”
Although a popular idea among voters, it would be difficult to get those in office to vote to limit their own terms. Serrano himself has been avoiding news media requests for comment.
Social media has been ablaze with critics who complain that this resolution is un-American, while supporters state that Americans have been unable to keep their most successful leaders in office.