Effort to call for congressional term limits fails

Effort to call for congressional term limits fails

term limits, Congress, House
A proposal to require Arizona to join other states calling for a convention of states to set congressional term limits failed in the state House as Republicans were divided on the topic this week. (Deposit Photos)

A measure that would have Arizona join other states calling for a convention of states to impose congressional term limits failed in the House as Republicans were divided on the issue.

Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, sponsored the resolution, HCR2016. While it failed a vote on the House floor 26-31 on April 11, it is the furthest a measure of this kind has made it through the Legislature in recent years.

The primary cause for division on the matter among Republicans was with the Article V convention Cook’s measure calls for. The convention would be called by the federal government if two-thirds of state legislatures agree for a convention with the purpose of amending the Constitution, which has never happened in the history of the country.

Cook, term limits, Congress, House
Rep. David Cook, R-Globe

“There’s a reason why this mechanism is in the Constitution to empower the states when the federal government fails to act,” Cook said. “But the reason why it’s never happened in 235 years is because the states band together such as enacting term limits, the Congress will do it themselves to control it. So technically, this convention, I believe will never even happen,” he continued.

Cook and others supporting the resolution argued that if a convention were to be called, it would only be done to impose term limits, which several Arizona Republicans said they support despite voting against the bill. But several other Republicans said that couldn’t be guaranteed and feared a “runaway convention.”

“Once a convention is called, that body may propose any legislation that they see fit,” said Rep. Justin Heap, R-Mesa. “And that means our entire Constitution is up for rewriting based on the will of these states.”

According to U.S. Term Limits, a lobbying group that is attempting to pass resolutions like Cook’s in other states, five states have passed legislation that uses single-subject language specific to congressional term limits for a convention of states and 14 other states have passed legislation for multiple subjects. A convention of states can only be called if 34 state legislatures call for a convention.

Rep. Cory McGarr, R-Tucson, said he recognized that a convention could be “potentially dangerous,” but he voted for Cook’s measure because he could see no other way to remove federal lawmakers who have built careers serving in Congress for decades.

“We already have a runaway Congress,” McGarr said. “We have a system wherein which people as soon as they get to Congress, they immediately start trying to figure out how they can stay there and how they can make this their career.”

McGarr’s seatmate, Rep. Rachel Jones, R-Tucson, voted against the resolution and said while she could’ve been persuaded to support it, she didn’t appreciate that U.S. Term Limits “threatened” her and other legislators that they would be primaried out of office and the group would fund $20,000 against their campaigns.

“I don’t take kindly to any kind of bullying or threats of how to vote on a certain bill,” Jones said.
Rep. Teresa Martinez, R-Casa Grande, earlier told the Arizona Capitol Times of a similar experience when she opposed Cook’s term limits resolution in 2022. U.S. Term Limits campaigned heavily against Martinez in the 2022 general election to instead support Republican Rob Hudelson and Rep. Keith Seaman, D-Casa Grande.

Of the $12,756 that was spent in total opposing Martinez in the district during the election cycle, U.S. Term Limits contributed $11,597. The group spent $17,396 supporting Hudelson and also supported Seaman’s campaign.

Martinez voted against Cook’s resolution on the House floor and said term limits exist every election cycle. She also said she took issue that no such term limits would exist for unelected bureaucrats in Congress.

“I will not be bullied, and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with my colleagues whenever they are (bullied),” Martinez said.

Seaman voted against Cook’s term limits resolution despite support from the group. House

Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci, R-Lake Havasu City, also said he signed a pledge to support congressional term limits legislation, but he couldn’t support Cook’s measure until he understood how an Article V convention would function in practice.