He now says Republican leaders in Congress should be able to stay there as long as they want.
As a 2016 candidate, Donald Trump vowed to push for strict term limits for Congress, including a three-term maximum for anyone in the House of Representatives. He raised money off of this plan as part of his "drain the swamp" package.
On Monday, this became Trump's latest abandoned promise.
In a tweet, Trump said that House Republicans should permit "Chairs of Committees to remain for longer than 6 years." He argued that such term limits force "great people" and "real leaders" to leave — an argument often made against term limits in general.
House Republicans should allow Chairs of Committees to remain for longer than 6 years. It forces great people, and real leaders, to leave after serving. The Dems have unlimited terms. While that has its own problems, it is a better way to go. Fewer people, in the end, will leave!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2019
Presumably, the president is talking about a caucus rule that limits members to six years as chair or ranking minority member of House committees. Since the Republicans are currently the minority party, there are no Republican committee chairs in the 116th Congress.
During his 2016 campaign, Trump promised he would push a constitutional amendment to ensure that no one served for longer than six years. "Right," he told a Colorado Springs, Colorado rally, "They’ve been talking about that for years."
Trump then repeatedly attempted to raise campaign contributions from supporters who backed this and the rest of his "Drain the Swamp" platform. A solicitation page on his 2016 website — still visible years later — listed three major promises under that banner.
One was: "We will create term limits for all of Congress."
As recently as April 2018, the president told pro-term-limit lawmakers that they had his "full support" in their push to amend the Constitution to limit congressional terms.
I recently had a terrific meeting with a bipartisan group of freshman lawmakers who feel very strongly in favor of Congressional term limits. I gave them my full support and endorsement for their efforts. #DrainTheSwamp
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2018
Trump's sudden turnaround on term limits seems to be fueled by his own self-interest. A large and growing number of senior House Republicans have already announced they do not plan to seek re-election in 2020, complicating the party's hopes of regaining control. Some senior Republicans will lose their positions under the committee term limits, after the current Congress ends, making another grueling re-election effort less appealing. Last year, prior to the midterm blue wave that wiped out his party's House majority, Trump complained, "We have a lot of chairmen that left because they’re chairmen for six years, and then they don’t want to stay because they can’t be chairmen."
Trump has also repeatedly "joked" that he might seek a third term as president, ignoring the constitutional term limit for his own office.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.