GOP congressman says 'socialists' made him break his promise to retire after 6 terms

1176

Rep. Andy Harris initially campaigned on term limits.

Rep. Andy Harris plans to break a promise he made 11 years ago not to run for more than six terms in Congress. Harris, a Maryland Republican, said over the weekend that socialism is to blame for his decision.

"The situation is very different from then, no one would have anticipated that we have the pushback from liberals and socialists that we have," he told a Baltimore radio station on Sunday. "I view this as when I was in the military, you sign up for a certain amount of years, but at the end of that you say, 'Look, if the job's not done, I'm re-upping.' So at this point in time, I'm re-upping. The bottom line is this fight is not over. We have very serious threats."

When Harris ran in 2010, promising to serve no longer than six two-year terms in the House, there were no caveats about re-upping. He promised to introduce a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on members of Congress.

"Harris is also pledging to impose a 12-year limit on himself as a member of the House," the Baltimore Sun's Paul West wrote in March 2010. "History shows that politicians are often prone to break that promise and rarely get punished by voters when they do."

While not using the term "socialism" at the time, Harris focused much of his 2010 campaign on attacking "out of control" government spending and opposing the "government takeover of our health care and medical decisions."

In 2013, he proposed limiting members of the House to six two-year terms "to break the gridlock in Washington caused in part by career politicians."

“Limiting Congressional terms is a common sense way to change Washington and make sure our elected leaders work for the people instead of the special interests," he said in a statement. "We need more citizen leaders who are willing to address our challenges instead of coming to Washington to become career politicians. Far too many of our leaders are more worried about the next election than addressing out of control spending or preserving our entitlement programs."

As recently as December 2017, Harris was listed as a member of the congressional Term Limits Caucus.

Harris, who is not one of the 39 House Republicans who have signed on as backers of term limit bills introduced so far in the 117th Congress, has a record of right-wing statements and votes during his time in Washington, D.C.

At a 2016 town hall, he argued against statehood for the District of Columbia, arguing that its citizens did not deserve representation "because they make irresponsible decisions like legalizing marijuana." He falsely claimed that "the African-American unemployment rate is 40 percent and the African-American graduation rate from high school is 12 percent."

In 2019, he was one of just 11 House Republicans to vote against legislation to reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

That same year he said Donald Trump's racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color — telling them to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" — were "obviously not racist."

Last May, he mocked medical experts advising social distancing measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus and said, "We're safer if we're not born. We're safer from death if we're not born, right? I mean, the bottom line is there's some element of risk."

And in October, he voted "present" rather than join 371 colleagues from both parties in condemning and rejecting dangerous QAnon conspiracy theories.

Harris could find himself facing an uphill battle when he runs again in 2022. Democrats hold supermajorities in both the Maryland state House of Delegates and the Maryland state Senate and may try to eliminate or redraw his seat when they carry out redistricting based on the results of the 2020 census.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.