I like what Charlie Daniels has to say on the matter, except the part about the lengths of terms. His proposal is just way too darn short, for a variety of reason.
I agree with term limits, provided they’re not so short that there’s no continuity. Continuity is EXTREMELY important when you’re talking about detailed, long-term issues and complex procedures, and Congress isn’t simple. It takes three to five years for a member of Congress just to learn the basics. The military builds in continuity. Airlines build in continuity. Just about every important, complex job builds in continuity, and the demands of Congress are no different.
I’ve analyzed many different proposals over the last eight years, and discussed them in depth on multiple occasions. I find the following tiered approach provides the best balance between fresh faces and maintaining continuity:
Tier I: 0-12 Years, consisting of three House terms or two Senatorial terms, IF they’re re-elected each of those terms.
One year prior to the 12-year point, all who wish to continue past 12 years put their names into a pool. Specifically, they write their names clearly and legibly on a lottery ball. The balls are inspected, then recorded one by one on a control roster as they’re entered into a lottery ball machine.
Members of the House at their 12-year points are done separately from members of the Senate at their 12-year points.
The machine is turned on and two-thirds of the balls are picked, the winners identified. Those balls are put aside. The remainder of the balls are emptied and accounted for against the control roster, then kept for possible re-pick.
A member who was picked may chose to withdraw, at which point the losers are put back into the machine for a re-pick to take the place of the one who withdrew. Whoever is picked must either accept or decline. If they decline, another ball is picked, and so on until the slot is filled.
Tier II: 12-24 Years, consisting of three more House terms or two more Senatorial terms, IF they’re re-elected each of those terms.
One year prior to the 24-year point, the process is repeated as per the 12-year point, but this time, only half of those competing will be picked.
Tier III: 25-36 Years, consisting of three more House terms or two more Senatorial terms, IF they’re re-elected each of those terms.
100% of all members of Congress will be capped at 36 years of total time in Congress, regardless of whether those years were spent as a Senator or a Representative.
FOR ALL PRACTICAL PURPOSES, and because some members of Congress are not re-elected after their first, second, or third terms, it’s likely that only half will serve more than 12 years and a quarter will serve more than 24 years.
In addition, since Congress puts a mandatory retirement age on airline pilots of 65 years, I feel it’s only fair that this be the mandatory retirement age for members of Congress, as well, and for the same reasons.
This approach is simple, straightforward, and provides for roughly double the current turnover while maintaining critical continuity.