High School Essay Contest: 3rd Place

This semester, the Buckley Program held a high school essay contest with the topic: If you could propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, what would it be? The following essay by James Heavey, a junior at Greenwich High, won 3rd place. 

AMENDMENT XXVIII:

Sec. 1  The length of a term in the House of Representatives shall now be four years

Sec. 2  No person shall be elected to Congress if they surpass the term limits.  The term limits shall be 2 terms in the House of Representatives, totalling 8 years and 2 terms in Congress totalling 12 years.  In total, one person may only serve in Congress for 20 years.

Sec. 3  A Congressional Advisory Resource Agency shall be established to provide legislative insight and experience to Congress.

Amid the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Trump promised to “Drain the swamp.”  This idea caught fire with people all around the country and this idea brought an idea that has been floating around for years back into the spotlight.  The idea of term limits on Congress was first seen in the Articles of Confederation’s Article V.  It has since progressed and changed over the years, being brought up throughout the centuries by the people.  Now, once again, it has gained serious backing.

The above proposed amendment is able to set a realistic solution to this issue as well as allow Congress to achieve their jobs.  The three sections each achieve a specific purpose.  The first section would allow Representatives to spend more time on legislation and less time on campaigning and fundraising.  On average, sitting representatives spend around three hours a 10 hour day raising funds for their next campaign according to Newsweek.  This is unacceptable.  The Representatives are elected to represent the people but they are forced by the current short terms to spend 30% of their precious time making phone calls instead of legislating or serving any other number of tasks.  By extending their terms, they wouldn’t have to spend as much time focusing on critical phone calls and could spend more helping pass legislation.  This section would help the Constitution be able to achieve its true purpose, allowing the House to truly represent the normal man.

The second section takes on a much more serious issue.  There are mounting demands to put term limits on congress and this addresses them directly.  It would limit congressmen to a total of 20 years in government.  This seems no outlandish demand as 20 years is still a long time but would prevent the rise of a career politician in Congress.  The two terms in the house would, with eight years total, be enough for someone to serve the country and move on.  From the house they could run for the senate which, according to CNN, 51 current senators have.  This system would allow someone to build up skill and reputation as a Congressman but would also act as a check against their ability to become corrupted or bought out.  It would also keep the Congress fresh and keep the causes more among the people.  These term limits are balance allowing the congressman to do work, but not stay in too long.

One of the largest concerns levied against such an amendment would be the loss of experience among the congress.  While this is a serious issue, the measures listed in section III would take care of this issue.  Section III establishes the Congressional Advisory Resource Agency to help retain experience.  CARA would be composed of retired Congressmen with experience and skill.  They would be able to act as resources and advise the younger congressmen on everything from the specifics of foreign affairs to bill-writing.  This resource would allow the younger congressmen to seek outside help if they needed it but would also keep congress fresh and free of corruption.  This agency would need to remain transparent but would be a good asset to help congress stay fresh yet experienced.

In conclusion, the 28th amendment addresses some popular issues.  Section I increases the term length in the house to help representatives get more done.  Section II establishes term limits to keep congress fresh and “drain the swamp.”  Finally, Section III creates a resource to keep experience in congress while not allowing anyone to stay in too long.

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