‘Vast overreach’: GOP ruffles Dem Party feathers with proposed term limits for committee positions

House Republicans succeeded in striking a nerve with their Democratic colleagues Monday when it was reported they may be considering unprecedented actions related to committee leadership, should they take control in November, driving a wedge amongst those on the left.

Current congressional policy allows for the leadership of either party to determine for themselves how committee appointments are handled. Since 1994, Republicans have maintained a self-imposed three-term limit for committee chairs and ranking members. Democrats have no such restrictions.

Now, according to Punchbowl News, should the Republicans win back the majority in November, they are considering some brand new rules for the 118th Congress. Their proposal would make their party term limits applicable to Democratic chairs and ranking members as well, and would therefore buck some high-ranking members out of seats they’ve held at length.

“This potential move by Republicans would have a seismic impact on the House and would be a huge breach of tradition,” Punchbowl reported. “For decades, the two parties have set their own internal rules to decide who sits on committees and for how long. Republicans have had term limits in place since 1994, Democrats currently don’t have any such regulations.”

Notable Democrats that would be removed from their ranking committee positions with such a move include Rep. Maxine Waters (CA) from the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS) of the Homeland Security Committee and Rep. Jerry Nadler (NY) representing the House Judiciary Committee.

Democrats have flirted with such a move themselves in 2006 and 2018, but did not move forward with the limits and Republicans had bandied about the idea of getting rid of the limits in 2019. While President Trump supported the move, saying the current measure, “forces great people, and real leaders, to leave after serving,” he was unable to sway his party to change.

Meanwhile, Democrats argue that a rule change by Republicans would be a major overreach. Members from the right contended that the opposition was guilty of far worse by removing Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA) and Paul Gosar (AZ) from their committees in what was equally unprecedented.

In an email obtained by The Hill, a senior Democratic aide wrote, “MTG and Gosar were kicked off their committees because [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy is too weak and feckless to do the job leaders are supposed to do when their Members do reprehensible things. Changing the entire seniority system for both caucuses is a vast overreach of a Majority’s power…like bringing a bazooka to a sword fight.”

However, that feeling is not consistent throughout the Democratic caucus as Rep. Dean Phillips (MN) noted, “High functioning organizations become so by building strong benches and limiting the tenure of leaders, usually ~10 years. No matter which party controls Congress in ’23, we should adopt term limits for committee chairs & get serious about developing a new generation of leaders.”

Committee positions are prized within the halls of Congress so it should come as no surprise that Democrats who have been waiting in the wings, and could continue to do so for years to come without a change, would be welcome to an opportunity to have more influence among their fellow lawmakers.

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