1. No person shall serve as a Senator for more than two complete terms.
If a person has served an incomplete term it shall be considered a complete term if the period of service were more than three years.
2. No person shall serve as a Representative for more than six complete terms.
If a person has served an incomplete term it shall be considered a complete term if the period of service were more than one year.
3. This Article shall not apply to any person serving in either House of Congress during the time that this Article becomes operative so long as that person maintains continuous service in that same House of Congress.
Many people (myself included) have long desired term limits as a means to limit the personal greed and power-lust of the members of Congress, as well as the undesired side-effects these have on the American people, our liberty, and the economy. However, getting the Congress to limit their own power voluntarily would be like asking a cat to be kind to mice. They would never voluntarily limit the years of their service. Many current and former members of Congress originally promised to limit themselves to a certain number of terms. Some may have actually intended to do just that. However, few kept that promise.
The solution, as I see it, is to exempt the sitting members of Congress from such limits. New members of Congress would have their years of service limited by this amendment, but those serving at the time that the amendment is ratified would be exempt so long as they continued to be reelected to that same office. This exemption would cease to apply to any member of Congress who lost a bid for reelection or who decided not to seek reelection. It would also not apply to a member of one House of Congress who decided to run for the other House of Congress.
I believe that more members of Congress would be willing to vote for term limits if they could exempt themselves from them. In addition, more might vote for this amendment since new members would be subject to limits. This would benefit the exempt members in the seniority-based system. Since many people have called for term limits for some time, they could easily accomplish a popular measure without affecting themselves personally.
Some have called for the repeal of the 17th Amendment. In the unlikely event that this occurs, I believe this amendment will be unaffected as currently worded since the text simply refers to service, not the manner of election to the Senate.
I realize that some people will view this as a flawed means of getting term limits, especially with the increase of power for the exempt members. However, I see this as the only practical way to accomplish that. I believe that the goal of term limits is important enough to accept this trade-off. The exempt incumbents will eventually retire or lose a reelection bid. Their successor would then be bound by term limits.
Other relevant posts of mine: