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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) introduced bipartisan legislation today to repeal the 22nd amendment, which states that “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.” Representatives Berman (D-CA), Pallone (D-NJ), Sabo (D-MN) and Sensenbrenner (R-WI) joined Hoyer in sponsoring the resolution.
Representative Hoyer released the following statement regarding the resolution:
“I introduced today a joint resolution to repeal outright the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution. The 22nd Amendment requires that no person who has served two terms, or who has served more than two years of another President’s term and their own elected term, be permitted to serve another term of office.
“The time has come to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, and not because of partisan politics. While I am not a supporter of the current President, I feel there are good public policy reasons for a repeal of this amendment. Under the Constitution as altered by the 22nd Amendment, this must be President George W. Bush’s last term even if the American people should want him to continue in office. This is an undemocratic result.
“Under the resolution I offer today, President Bush would not be eligible to run for a third term. However, the American people would have restored to themselves and future generations an essential democratic privilege to elect who they choose in the future.
“A limitation on the terms that a President could serve was not fully discussed by the Founding Fathers. However, Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Paper 72, recognized that one important benefit of not having term limits on the President would be:
“to enable the people, when they see reason to approve of his conduct, to continue him in the station in order to prolong the utility of his talents and virtues, and to secure to the government the advantage of permanency in a wise system of administration.”
“After President George Washington retired after serving two terms, a custom emerged that was not broken until President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to four terms. The people chose President Roosevelt because they desired trusted and effective leadership.
“We do not have to rely on rigid constitutional standards to hold our Presidents accountable. Sufficient power resides in the Congress and the Judiciary to protect our country from tyranny. As the noted attorney and counsel to Presidents, Clark Clifford, said:
“I believe we denigrate ourselves as an enlightened people, and our political process as a whole, in imposing on ourselves still further disability to retain tested and trusted leadership. The Congress and the Judiciary are now and will remain free to utilize their own countervailing constitutional power to forestall any executive overreaching.”
“Furthermore, a ‘lame duck’ President serving in his second term is less effective dealing with the Congress and the bureaucracy than a President should be. I do not believe that the people want a popularly chosen President who will be weakened in a second term. The removal of the President from politics as prescribed by the 22nd Amendment has the effect of removing the President from the accountability to political forces that come to bear during regular elections every four years.
“The 22nd Amendment reflects a fundamental distrust of the judgment of the American people. However, trust of the good sense of the people is one of the cornerstones of democracy.
“In 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote:
“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.”
“I believe the repeal of the 22nd Amendment will restore power to the people themselves and make our Constitution more democratic. I hope my colleagues will join me in this effort.”