Bush will back term limits for Congress, Sununu says

December 12, 1990|By New York Times

WASHINGTON -- President Bush has decided to push for a constitutional amendment to limit the terms of members of Congress, says his chief of staff, John Sununu.

Doing so as he prepares for his re-election campaign will put Bush squarely and publicly on the side of an idea that is as widely popular among voters as it is widely unpopular among members of Congress, including many Republican lawmakers.

But even though passage of such an amendment is unlikely, there is very little risk for Bush in associating himself with this movement.

Politically, the move fits nicely with the growing effort by the White House to depict Congress as the source of most of the nation's problems.

"The reality that incumbency breeds a very different attitude is now sensed by the public," Sununu said yesterday.

Bush has previously said he supports limiting lawmakers' terms, just as the terms of the president and many governors are already limited.

Vice President Dan Quayle campaigned heavily on the issue during the mid-term elections.

But Sununu's comment, at a National Press Club luncheon, was the first public indication that the White House plans to work to keep the issue alive, indeed, draw even more attention to it, as the presidential election approaches.

Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are against a constitutional amendment limiting congressional terms, as are many Republicans.

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