A two-year congressional term isn't enough

December 4, 2013 

Local freshmen congressmen Bill Enyart and Rodney Davis aren't even halfway through their first terms, but already they are having to focus on the second. Like all members of the House, they are stuck on the re-election treadmill.

While U.S. senators run for office every six years, House members run every two. The next campaign starts for House members as soon as one ends. If new congressmen aren't careful, they could find themselves out of a job before they have barely figured out their way around the Capitol.

Enyart knows it's important to balance party loyalty with independent thought: "I supported the president when he was right, I voted the other way when we needed to vote the other way."

He and Davis both understand not to get too caught up in any one issue because news cycles are even shorter than congressional terms. Enyart put it well: "There will be 10 mores crises between now and the election and I think what we have to be focused on is ... jobs and the development of the economy so that our kids can have good jobs and good educations and work hard for Southern Illinois."

Still, it would be easier for congressmen to stay focused on issues if that next election wasn't always hanging over their heads.

We're not sure what the perfect term length would be for a member of the House, but two years is too little time.

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