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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Earmarks and Term Limits

Sidney Salter wrote about U. S. senator Roger Wicker's support of a two-year moratorium on congressional earmarks. Sidney compared this support to Wicker's endorsement of the House Republican candidates' 1994 Contract with America.

"... Republicans who are truly concerned about angering the Tea Party crowd might do well to review the last time they made promises to the voters and failed to keep them. Back in 1994, Wicker the candidate signed the ten-point 'Contract With America' — which promised to bring term limits to Congress. ... .
Yet Wicker the congressman never voted in favor of term limits.

"... Wicker got away with his rather blatant 1994 'Contract With America' flip-flop on term limits..."

The big majority of the Republican House candidates, including Wicker, signed the Contract with America in the fall of 1994. In doing so, they promised to bring each of the ten pieces of the Contract to a vote-- but not necessarily to passage-- on the House floor during the first 100 days of the new Congress. The first GOP House majority in 40 years, the Republicans kept this promise. While they had not pledged passage of the ten parts of the Contract, they did indeed pass nine of the ten parts-- all but term limits. Despite getting a simple majority (227 to 204), the term limits proposal did not receive the two-thirds vote necessary for a constitutional amendment.

Thus, since Congressman Wicker never pledged to vote for term limits, he did not "flip-flop" on that issue (the House Republicans voted for term limits, 189 to 40, whereas the Democrats voted against the measure, 163 to 38).[1]

If the term limits amendment had indeed gotten the required two-thirds vote in the House, it would then have also had to get a two-thirds majority in the Senate before being sent to the states for ratification.

In the end, President Bill Clinton signed seven of the ten pieces of the Contract with America into law.


[1] The independent Bernie Sanders, then Vermont's lone congressman, also voted against term limits. Sanders, an avowed socialist, is, of course, now a U. S. senator. He caucuses with the Democrats, where I'm sure he feels right at home.


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