New Debate Rages Over Age Limits for Politicians After McConnell’s Latest Freeze


Days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) froze for 30 seconds while speaking to reporters after a speech in Covington, Kentucky, voters and political insiders are debating whether there should be age limits in place for anyone seeking political office.

The episode is similar to one Mr. McConnell experienced in the U.S. Capitol last month where he froze while speaking to reporters and has raised questions about the fitness of the 81-year-old to lead the Senate Republican caucus or finish his term in office.

“I think he’s having mini-strokes,” Deborah Barnes, an unaffiliated voter in Alexandria, Virginia, told The Epoch Times. “He just stared straight ahead and it looked like his face went pale while people were asking him questions. I think he should retire and take care of his health.”

Mr. McConnell suffered a fall that resulted in a concussion in March but has been cleared to “resume his schedule” by Congress’s attending physician.

“I have consulted with Leader McConnell and conferred with his neurology team. After evaluating yesterday’s incident, I have informed Leader McConnell that he is medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned,” said Congressional Attending Physician Dr. Brian Monahan. “Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration.”

Mr. McConnell isn’t the only senior senator who has experienced an awkward episode. A day after the minority leader froze during a July news conference, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) had to be reminded by a colleague to “just say, ‘aye'” while casting her vote for the military budget.

Mr. McConnell’s latest health scare, combined with a new survey by The Associated Press that shows the majority of Americans (77 percent) believe President Joe Biden is “too old to be effective for four more years,” has renewed the debate over age limits for those seeking or holding political office. Mr. Biden would be 86 years old if he ends a second term in office.

“There should absolutely be some basic cognitive requirements to control a world-ending nuclear arsenal and govern over millions of Americans,” Nick Brana, chairman of the People’s Party, told The Epoch Times. “D.C. has become an assisted living facility for warmongers. Look at Biden for heaven’s sake. The man can barely speak or walk anymore.”

Mr. Brana, who worked as the national political outreach coordinator for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential bid, says it’s time for younger people to get involved in politics.

“Get these geriatric swamp creatures out of D.C. We have laws against elder abuse!” he said.

Others disagree with Mr. Brana’s assessment. Democratic strategist Matt Angle, founder of the Lone Star Project, told The Epoch Times that despite Mr. Biden’s age he’s been one of the most successful presidents in history.

“Joe Biden has had the most successful first term in 50 years. At 80, he’s far more lucid, competent, and accomplished than any Republican congressional leader, [former President]Donald Trump, or any of the second-string Republicans running against Trump,” he said. “An age limit arbitrarily restricts voter choices. Voters can and should judge on competence and suitability, not age alone. Biden’s age is an issue mostly because it’s mentioned in every media story about him.”

Some voters meanwhile, believe that putting age limits in place for politicians is inevitable.

“I think this is something that we are likely going to have to face. People are living longer, but it doesn’t mean they are cognitively better,” Brandon Ater, a Republican from Centreville, Maryland, told The Epoch Times. “To be honest I think people are thirsty for new blood. We have politicians that have been around forever. Of course, they don’t want to be forced out.”

Constitutional Amendment

Voters who support age limits for the president and members of Congress have launched online campaigns to promote the idea. But any legally binding change would require a constitutional amendment and those efforts have not gained much support on Capitol Hill.

“Age limits for office are unconstitutional. They would require a constitutional amendment to implement which is politically unimaginable,” Jared Leopold, a political analyst, told The Epoch Times. “Voters usually make their assessment not on elected officials age, but on their ability to deliver results. What’s most important for politicians of any age is to show that they’re still fighting and delivering for their constituents.”

Two Republicans in Congress, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), introduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution at the beginning of the year that would impose term limits on members of Congress.

The amendment would limit U.S. senators to two six-year terms and members of the U.S. House of Representatives to three two-year terms after the date of its enactment.

“Term limits are critical to fixing what’s wrong with Washington, D.C. The Founding Fathers envisioned a government of citizen legislators who would serve for a few years and return home, not a government run by a small group of special interests and lifelong, permanently entrenched politicians who prey upon the brokenness of Washington to govern in a manner that is unaccountable to the American people.” Cruz said in a statement. “Terms limits bring about accountability that is long overdue and I urge my colleagues to advance this amendment along to the states so that it may be quickly ratified and become a constitutional amendment.”

The amendment did not receive an overwhelming amount of support. Congress has voted down similar proposals for term limits previously.

The nonprofit organization U.S. Term Limits has also released a pledge signed by 112 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 21 members of the U.S. Senate. Those who have signed the pledge state that “as a member of the U.S. Congress, I will co-sponsor and vote for the U.S. Term Limits Amendment of three (3) House terms and two (2) Senate terms and no longer limit.”

The nonprofit has also been very aggressive in holding members of Congress who have signed the pledge to remain true to it, going so far as to campaign against pledge breakers amid reports that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is encouraging members of his caucus to break their word.