As Congress prepares to return from summer recess this week, my organization, Citizens United, conducted a poll of a cross-section of our national membership asking what issue lawmakers on Capitol Hill should focus on next. We followed that query up with a question regarding congressional term limits. The results of the poll should be both a roadmap and a warning sign for House and Senate leadership as they plot their upcoming strategies for the fall.
First we asked: “Choosing from the list of ten issues, what is the one issue you would like Congress to address next?” Of the wide-ranging issues provided, a commanding 31 percent of the 4,100 individuals polled voted for border security as the issue Congress should tackle first upon their return to Washington. Defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing and replacing Obamacare were next on our grassroots conservatives’ priority list, at 16 percent and 15 percent respectively. Passing a Balanced Budget Amendment garnered 12 percent of the vote, with eight percent saying Congress should vote to declare war on ISIS. Rounding out the poll was tax code reform at five percent, entitlement reform at two percent, opening up domestic energy production at two percent, tax relief at one percent, and education reform at less than one percent. Eight percent of those polled chose “other.”
The fact that one of the ten issues received almost a third of our member vote is astounding. The dominance of illegal immigration and the dire situation at the southern border was fueled of course by the anti-establishment, anti-Washington, anti-politician candidacy of Donald Trump. Trump’s candid and tough talk about building a border wall has lit a fire across America that is still burning brightly. Is Congress listening? This critical point — whether or not our elected leaders on Capitol Hill listen to their constituents anymore — is directly tied to the next question in our poll.
We asked our members: “Do you support amending the U.S. Constitution to require term limits for Members of Congress?” A resounding 85 percent of those surveyed support congressional term limits, five percent were against, and the balance “not sure.” Similarly, a 2013 public poll on the subject revealed that 75 percent supported term limits at the time. There’s no doubt about it, an enormous percentage of Americans think that entrenched, out-of-touch career politicians are a problem that needs to be dealt with. What would happen if Mr. Trump lit the fire for term limits like he’s done with border security?
There will be a flurry of activity in Congress in September, with many consequential decisions needing to be made in the areas of federal spending and national security. We’ll also find out if Republican leaders in Congress have the courage to finally defund Planned Parenthood and keep the expired Export-Import Bank from coming back. One thing’s for sure, grassroots conservatives want Republicans in Congress to stand up for what they say they believe in, and pass the agenda that was promised before the past three national elections.