In this week’s 20-min podcast:
-Mitch McConnell (R) and Dianne Feinstein (D) publicly demonstrate how the lack of Term Limits paralyzes our Congress
-Nikki Haley: “We’ve GOT to have a new generation of leadership.”
-Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s dirty trick to gut the people’s choice on term limits
Philip Blumel: Bipartisan incapacity. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits movement. This is episode 219, posted on August 7th, 2023.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: One day apart, Republican senator Mitch McConnell and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, demonstrated to the nation, once again, about how the lack of term limits paralyzes the US Congress. On July 26th, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, age 81, was standing before a podium ready to speak to reporters when he suddenly stopped talking, appeared to freeze, and went silent for 19 seconds and was walked away. He returned to the podium later and successfully held his press conference and shared his remarks. This wasn’t McConnell’s first senior moment. He also tripped and fell at a Washington DC airport earlier that month. An even more dramatic incident involved Senator Dianne Feinstein the very next day. Let’s let MSNBC tell the story.
Speaker 3: 90-year-old Senator Dianne Feinstein appeared confused during a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting. That moment happened during a key markup meeting for a budget bill.
Speaker 4: The Clerk will call the roll.
Speaker 5: Senator Feinstein.
Speaker 6: Just say Aye.
Dianne Feinstein: Pardon me.
Speaker 6: Aye.
Dianne Feinstein: Yeah.
Speaker 6: Just say…
Dianne Feinstein: I would like to support a yes vote on this. It provides 823 billion. That’s an increase of 26 billion for the Department of Defense and it funds priorities submitted.
Speaker 6: Yeah. Just say aye.
Dianne Feinstein: Okay. Just…
Speaker 6: Aye.
Speaker 5: Senator…
Dianne Feinstein: Aye. Thank you.
Speaker 5: Senator Durbin. Senator Reed.
Speaker 3: NBC’s Jules Serkin is on Capitol Hill for us. Jules, put that into some context for us and as most people who are watching this know, there have been some questions previously about Dianne Feinstein’s illnesses that kept her out of the Senate for some time.
Jules Serkin: Yeah. And we’re talking about this generation of aging lawmakers with Senator Mitch McConnell’s moment yesterday. Now, Senator Dianne Feinstein, who’s 89 years old, who was, as you know Chris, out of the Senate for a period of months when she was battling shingles. She had some complications from that earlier this spring. And since she’s been back, I wish I could say this moment that we saw today in the Appropriations Defense subcommittee was the first that we’ve seen of this. But it’s not, she’s… Can’t answer some questions from reporters. She’s had a few of these confusing moments, the Senate officials even going as far as trying to stop reporters from getting an accurate picture of her capabilities and how she’s doing mentally as well. So this was a super awkward moment to put it lightly today in this committee.
Jules Serkin: It actually happened twice. That first moment that you saw on your screen where the chairwoman of the committee, Patty Murray, had to step in and sort of tell her, “Just say aye, you don’t need to explain your vote. We’re just doing a simple roll call vote in this moment.” They were considering other bills as well. It happened moments later where she mistakenly appeared to say no on a bill that she meant to vote for. Another democratic senator leaning in her ear during that moment and she quickly switched her vote. But this just all brings into question, again, of the aging lawmakers we have. She’s nearly 90 years old. We know that she is not going to seek another term, but she has been facing pressure from her democratic colleagues, most namely Congressman Ro Khanna California representative in the house who publicly called on her to step aside, to resign, to make room for some new generation of leadership in her position, one that she’s held for decades. And surely it was remembered for a legacy of making crucial accomplishments, but now unfortunately tainted by some of these health issues that she’s having.
Philip Blumel: Wow. These incidents have led to calls for term limits from all over the political landscape. Of course the current Senate is the oldest in history with a median age of 65, the median age 65. In the house. The median age has hovered between 57 and 58 for the past decade, higher than in any year before that period. At 81 McConnell is only the fourth-oldest senator and one of more than two dozen members who come from the silent generation. Born between the ’20s and the end of World War II. 90-year-old Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is the oldest senator. It was reported last week that Senator Feinstein has relinquished power of attorney to her 66-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, Feinstein continues to serve on important committees, including the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.
Philip Blumel: How does this happen? Well, first, let’s point out what doesn’t happen. Voters do not look at Feinstein and McConnell and say to themselves, “Oh, here are the best candidates that our states,” our entire states, “Can offer.” And among these fine other choices on the ballot, I’m happy to cast my vote for this incumbent senator who has been serving in the interest of our state and country for the last 50 years. [laughter] When politicians tell you, “We already have term limits, they’re called elections.” This is the tale they’re spinning. Do you realize that in the 2022 elections, every senator up for reelection running for their own seat was reelected every single one. And yet the latest approval ratings of the US Senate from June of this year shows 20% have a favorable opinion of this body. No, elections are not enough. They have elections in Cuba, do you realize that? Elections are held at the municipal, provincial, and national levels in Cuba, And do you know what percentage of incumbents running for their own seat won in the last national election for assembly? You guessed it. 100%. Just like the US Senate. We don’t just need elections, we need competitive elections.
Philip Blumel: In the United States, we have extremely uncompetitive elections where support for incumbents is massive and automatic. And challengers win about 5% of the time. Successful goal-oriented people do not run for these seats. Incumbents just march right back into office over and over again until they retire, until they die, or until they are imprisoned. So following these recent incidents, including by the way, reelection of indicted Congress members, which happens and keeps happening for the same reason, we’re hearing more and more calls for term limits. For example, just the other day, term-limited Missouri Governor Mike Parson said, “It is ridiculous some politicians have their positions for pretty much forever. I know how this is gonna be taken politically, but I’m gonna be honest, I’m going to be 69 years old when I leave the governor’s office. But there is a time for all politicians to go home.” Parson said, “They don’t need to be in these positions forever.” And you may have also heard Elon Musk tweeted that we need a constitutional amendment. This is insane. In the first in-person debate of Democratic congressional candidates in Providence, Rhode Island, all but one of the 10 Democratic candidates came out squarely for term limits. And we also heard from presidential candidate Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina on Face the Nation. Listen to this.
Nikki Haley: You have just criticized Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader who’s 81 and had some issues in front of a camera this week where he seemed to freeze a bit. Are you confident in his ability to lead because he says he is gonna serve out his term?
Nikki Haley: I think Mitch McConnell did an amazing job when it comes to our judiciary, when we look at the judges, when we look at the Supreme Court, he’s been a great leader. But I do think that this is one… We’ve gotta stop electing people because they look good in a picture, or they hold a baby well. We’ve gotta stop electing people because we like them and they’ve been there a long time. That’s actually the problem. You need to have term limits because we need new ideas, new solutions. We’ve gotta have a new generation. I hate Republicans and Democrats. We are $32 trillion in debt. We’re having to borrow money just to make our interest payments. I would love to say Biden did that to us, but Republicans did that to us too. Republicans in the 24 budget asked for $7.4 billion in earmarks. Democrats asked for 2.8 billion. Who are the big spenders there? What I am saying about Mitch McConnell, Diane Feinstein, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, all of them, “Know when to walk away. Know when to walk away.” We have huge issues that need new solutions. We need new generational leaders. We appreciate your service. We appreciate what you’ve done, but this is why we will fight for term limits. We’ve gotta get it done in America.
Philip Blumel: Everyone knows she’s right. Everyone. Last week, the state of North Dakota approved the Retire Congress North Dakota Campaign to start circulating petitions to put a measure on the ballot to prohibit 80-year-olds from running to represent North Dakota in the US Congress. The Retire Congress North Dakota Campaign is run by term limits hero, Jared Hendrix, who ran the successful effort in 2022 to term-limit the governor and legislator of North Dakota to eight years in office. It’ll be pretty easy to collect signatures for that one, especially after these two incidents. Expect to see that question on the 2024 ballot in North Dakota. Now, in the midst of all this, there’s likely to be a vote in the US House on a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on the US Congress. Good timing. Of course, in the latest episode of Breaking News on Term Limits, our own Holly Robichaud reminds us that not everyone is for term limits on Congress. Even politicians who claim to support the idea in public can’t necessarily be counted on when the chips are down. Let’s hear from Holly.
Holly Robichaud: Hi, this is Holly Robichaud from Breaking News on Term Limits, got an important message for you today. Have you heard the news speaker Kevin McCarthy is trying to take the teeth out of our legislation. Our legislation House Joint Resolution 11, limits members to three terms, six years in Congress. They wanna amend it to six terms, 12 years in Congress. That guts it. That absolutely guts it. Please get involved today and tell speaker Kevin McCarthy, “Don’t amend House Joint Resolution 11.” Let’s have a real vote on term limits.
Holly Robichaud: We’ve got great news coming out of North Carolina this week. We now have 20 state senators supporting our resolution on congressional term limits. As you know, we’ve got it passed in the house, but now all we need is five more state senators to sign on board to add North Carolina to our growing list of states calling for congressional term limits. Let’s make this happen. As I mentioned at the top of the show House speaker Kevin McCarthy with an assist from House Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan, may break his promise for an up or down vote on House Joint Resolution 11, the US term limits amendment filed by representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina. During the battle for the House speakership, Kevin McCarthy promised a clean vote on the US term limits amendment. This was one of the promises that McCarthy made to win the speakership. We fully expect him to keep his promise.
Holly Robichaud: Now we’re hearing from multiple sources that McCarthy and Jordan intend to kill House Joint Resolution 11 and substitute it with a sham bill that would allow for six terms, 12 years in the house, two terms in the Senate for another 12 years. That’s right, a combined 20 years for career politicians gutting the whole concept of term limits. Even worse, it would put 112 members of the house who signed the US term limits in a horrible predicament. They can either vote for the sham bill and break their pledge or go on the record opposing term limits. Worse, it gives covers to opponents of term limits, making it look like they support congressional term limits. Only in Washington would career politicians attempt to derail an issue that over 82% of American support, regardless of political affiliation, but that’s what we’re hearing they’re going to do. If the reports we’re hearing are true, it could happen at any time. We here at US Term Limits will keep you up-to-date on what’s happening. Please visit termlimits.com/McCarthy to sign our pledge to urge Speaker McCarthy to bring House Joint Resolution 11 with no longer term limits. Just three terms for congressional members. Remember, DC insiders are trying to claim that over 20 years is term limits. It’s not. We need your help.
Holly Robichaud: In Texas, Texas senator Ted Cruz continues to be a tireless advocate for term limits. He has sponsored, in this session of Congress, Senate Joint Resolution 2, a companion bill to our House Joint Resolution 11. This legislation sponsored by Ted Cruz now has 16 co-sponsors. We thank Senator Cruz for his continued work for us. Did you hear what happened in Michigan? In Warren, Michigan, Mayor Jim Fouts, tried to bypass the term limits amendment that was passed by the voters in the city in 2020 and seek a fifth term to office. Talk about total disregard for the will of the people. Fortunately, a judge ruled that term limits did apply to Fouts, and kicked him off the ballot. I want to update you on a previous story we’ve covered in Ohio. In March, we discussed Ohio State House speaker Larry Householder. He was found guilty, by a federal jury, for participating in racketeering conspiracy that involved nearly $61 million in bribes and a $1.3 billion bailout for two struggling nuclear power plants. He’s been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the scandal and taken immediately into custody. A judge declared the court and the community’s patience with Larry Householder has expired, along with ours, on career politicians.
Philip Blumel: Thanks Holly. Holly’s YouTube program, Breaking News On Term Limits can be found at youtube.com/ustermlimits. Next. Although it seems like it sometimes, the schemers in the US Congress aren’t the only ones in the world who oppose term limits. There’s also schemers in the Central African Republic. And I’m serious. The president of the CAR, the Central African Republic, is Faustin-Archange Touadéra, and he’s asking voters to abolish term limits at the polls so that, as it is widely believed, he can become president for life. The referendum is backed by, get this, Russia’s Wagner mercenary group that we’ve heard of from the Ukraine war and from the short-lived mutiny in Moscow. The Wagner Group is gonna be “providing security for the election”. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. Wagner boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said hundreds of Wagner additional fighters have arrived in the country.
Philip Blumel: “We control the territory of the CAR.” He’s quoted as saying. Now Wagner is increasingly seen as the main group on which Touadera’s government relies to remain in power and to fight rebels, etcetera. Wagner has had at least 1000 forces in the Central African Republic since 2018 and has also developed huge business interests in the country. It reportedly trades in minerals and in timber. Politicians all over the globe oppose term limits and they all do it for the same reason, to maintain power. In Washington, DC, in the CAR. Don’t forget that both Mitch McConnell and Dianne Feinstein have always opposed term limits. Back in 2012, in a non-binding sense of the Senate vote, both voted nay to this statement. ‘The Senate should pass a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution that limits the number of terms a member of Congress may serve’.
Philip Blumel: They both voted nay. What were they after in making that vote? Power for life. Looks like they’re getting it. Next. The quote of the week. As you know, in advancing term limits, states are passing resolutions, calling for an amendment-writing convention under Article V of the US Constitution, limited to the subject of congressional term limits. Well, in Newsweek, just last week, constitutional scholar, John F Cowell, reiterated a point that we often make at US Term Limits. A convention would be great, but we don’t have to actually have a convention to succeed. “One reason to be open to the Article V route is a convention’s potential prodding effect on Congress. The saga of the 17th Amendment, which established the direct election of US senators by voters in each state provide some inspiration. For two decades, the US Senate refused to consider the measure until the credible threat of an Article V convention finally forced a vote. Voila.”
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Philip Blumel: Thanks for joining us for another episode of No Uncertain Terms. The Term Limits Convention bills are moving through the state legislatures. This could be a breakthrough year for the Term Limits Movement. To check on the status of the Term Limits Convention resolution in your state, go to termlimits.com/takeaction. There, you will see if it has been introduced and where it stands in the committee process on its way to the floor vote. If there’s action to take, you’ll see a ‘take action’ button by your state. Click it. This will give you the opportunity to send a message to the most relevant legislators, urging them to support the legislation. They have to know you’re watching. That’s termlimits.com/takeaction. If your state has already passed the Term Limits Convention Resolution or the bill’s not been introduced in your state, you can still help. Please consider making a contribution to US Term Limits. It’s our aim to hit the reset button on the US Congress and you can help. Go to termlimits.com/donate, termlimits.com/donate. Thanks.
Stacey Selleck: The revolution isn’t being televised. Fortunately, you have No Uncertain Terms podcast.
Philip Blumel: USTL.