Term limits: Former Florida congressman says it’s time to enact them

On Balance with Leland Vittert

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the longest-serving Republican senator, announced Friday that he will run for re-election in 2022. 

Grassley, 88, said in an announcement posted to Twitter that there is “a lot more to do, for Iowa.” 

The longtime Republican lawmaker has served in the Senate for 40 years. If he wins, Grassley would be 95 at the end of his eighth term. And for Francis Rooney, former ambassador to the Vatican and former Florida congressman, that’s far too long. 

“Senator Grassley is a great American and a great patriot. But he’s been there a long time,” he said.

Speaking with Leland Vittert on NewsNation’s “On Balance,” Rooney said he believed term limits are what the founders of the United States “envisioned” and that a professional politician should not serve in the public realm forever.

Rooney and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on Congress in January 2019, but it never went anywhere.

One of the biggest challenges with enacting term limits is that they are unconstitutional. Amending the Constitution is a daunting task; in April 2018, Rooney thought he found a workaround.

He introduced a bill that would reduce the salaries of anyone in Congress who’d been there for 12 years to $1.

That, also, did not go anywhere.

“There were over 100 sponsors of term-limit bills that required a constitutional amendment, which was just a joke and it was going nowhere,” Rooney said. “And I had trouble scrounging up about 20 for my bill.”

Grassley’s decision now allows GOP Senate strategists more time and money to concentrate on key seats being vacated by retiring Republican senators in Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Grassley will face a challenge from former Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Iowa, who announced her candidacy in July.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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