BOISE - Freshman Congressman Raul Labrador says after serving in the U.S. House and seeing what it’s really like, he’s changed his mind and now supports term limits.
“This is actually an area where I have changed in the last eight months. I believe that we need term limits in politics, especially congressional politics,” Labrador told the Boise City Club on Tuesday. “I have been very disappointed being back in Washington, D.C., where I have heard people actually voice openly that the reason they’re not making the tough decisions that we have to make, that they know we have to make for this nation, is because they’re worried about the next election.”
He said, “It’s really a shame … All decisions back in Washington, D.C. are based on whether you’re going to be elected, re-elected, whether you’re going to be in the majority or not.”
Labrador, an opponent of term limits before he was elected to Congress in an upset victory last year, said he now also supports term limits for Idaho state elective offices, from the state Legislature to governor.
However, he said he won’t unilaterally impose term limits on himself, without them applying to everyone in Congress. “I think that hurts you as a congressman,” he said. “But I am going to start advocating for term limits.”
Labrador told the Spokesman-Review that he was contemplating a self-imposed limit, but the daughter of the late Idaho Rep. Helen Chenoweth, who voluntarily limited herself to three terms or six years in Congress, “just begged me, ‘do not self-impose,’” Labrador said. “She always regretted it.”
Chenoweth represented Idaho’s 1st District, the same district in which Labrador now serves.
The former Idaho state representative and attorney said he now favors a limit of 10 or 12 years in office, whether for congressional or state offices. For U.S. representatives who serve two-year terms, that’d be five or six terms.
“I think if you can’t get something done in 10 or 12 years, maybe you shouldn’t be there,” Labrador said. But he said he didn’t think six years would be enough.
“It takes you at least one term to figure out what you’re doing,” the first-year lawmaker said. “You’ve got to figure out how the place works.”
Labrador said he hasn’t informed his former colleagues in the Idaho Legislature who are term limits opponents of his change of heart. “They’re going to be mad at me,” he said.