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Congressional Voting on Term Limits


Between 1990 and 1995,twenty-three states unilaterally imposedterm limits on their own delegations toCongress. In 1995 the House ofRepresentatives defeated a constitutionalamendment that would have limited the termsfor all of Congress. Only weeks later, theSupreme Court struck down the individualstate laws. In 1997 the House againbrought the issue to a vote, which alsofailed. This paper models congressionalvoting on term limits with a simple gamewithin an interest-group theory withlegislators as imperfect agents ofconstituents. The game foremost predictsthat members from term-limited states wouldbe more likely to support term limits inthe first vote but no more likely on thesecond vote. The empirical section employsprobit, multinomial logit, and orderedprobit maximum likelihood estimations toconfirm the stated hypotheses. Among otherresults, in particular both the joint andconditional probability of a `yea' on thefirst vote and a subsequent `nay' on thesecond vote is higher for members fromstates that had unilaterally self-imposedterm limits. The results are robust tomodel specification, estimator, andalternative sampling. Implications areproposed in the concluding comments.

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López, E.J. Congressional Voting on Term Limits. Public Choice 112, 405–431 (2002).

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  • Maximum Likelihood Estimation
  • Likelihood Estimation
  • Public Finance
  • Stated Hypothesis
  • Paper Model