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Should there be term limits in Congress?

Question Everything: Should there be term limits in Congress?
Question Everything: Should there be term limits in Congress? 05:01

BOSTON – This is not your grandfather's Congress. Or is it?

Right now we have the oldest Congress in history.

The average age in Congress is 59 years old. That's more than 20 years older than the age of the average American, which is 38 years old.

"Power corrupts," said Tom Whelan, a Boston University professor, presidential historian and author.

Debate over term limits started with our forefathers. The Constitution did not call for term limits thanks in part to founding father James Madison. 

"James Madison argued fairly articulately that he said 'Wouldn't we be depriving ourselves of all these leaders' experience they've acquired in serving their nation?' So that argument seemed to carry the day," Whelan said.

As for the modern political landscape, there are several senators who have served for decades. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley has been in office for 47 years, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey for 45 years, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for 41 years, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for 37 years.

At the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown, people told WBZ-TV they are hungry for change. Is the current political system working?

"No, I don't know that anyone would say yes to that question," Dave Malozzi said.

Other customers agreed.

"The system doesn't work. Something needs to be done. So if term limits is that first step, then term limits is the first step.  You are not supposed to make a career out of this," Heidi Bailey said.

"It's even more important at the Senate level because they're there six years," Elizabeth Brown said.

WBZ-TV reached out to every member of the Massachusetts delegation to ask their stance on term limits. Four responded, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who said she does not believe in term limits.

"No to arbitrary term limits. Yes to real campaign finance reform that gets money out of politics," Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said.

Sen. Ed Markey said "There are term limits. They're called elections."

Congressman Jim McGovern said "Voters should be the ones who decide how long elected officials serve."

According to a recent poll by McLaughlin and Associates, 80% of Americans want Congress to have term limits.

"This is actually one of those issues that Republicans and Democrats and unenrolled all agree on it, that there should be term limits," said Holly Robichaud, who works with the organization U.S. Term Limits.

Robichaud said things have changed since our founding fathers wrote the constitution.

"Well they didn't envision what the campaign system has become," Robichaud said. "Ninety percent of the money from PACs and lobbyists go to incumbents. It makes it almost impossible for a challenger to win. So by implementing term limits, you're creating a level playing field for people to go out there and get elected."

So what would it take to put term limits into a place? A constitutional amendment takes two-thirds of both branches of Congress to vote yes. Then three-fourths of all states must agree to ratify the agreement.

"And given how divided our country is right now politically, that has a snowball's chance in you know where of succeeding," Whelan said. 

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