Government

Rep. Rod Blum sees term limits as answer to lack of political courage

U.S. Rep. Rod Blum during a town hall meeting at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, May. 9, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
U.S. Rep. Rod Blum during a town hall meeting at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, May. 9, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — One of Rep. Rod Blum’s biggest surprises in his four years in the United States House has been what he sees a the lack of political courage among his colleagues.

“Oh my gosh, probably near the top is the lack of political courage,” the Dubuque Republican said in response to a question while speaking to the Cedar Rapids Downtown Rotary on Monday afternoon. “I could not believe the lack of political courage in Washington. Both sides of the aisle.”

That’s why Blum, 63, who is seeking re-election to a third term, backs term limits. Under the plan he supports, a person could serve three two-year terms in the House and two six-year terms in the Senate — a maximum of 18 years.

“Everyone is so damn afraid of the next election,” he said. “I’m one of these people who says I’m going to do what I told the voters I’m going to do. If I don’t get sent back, I’m OK with that. I’m not afraid to be unelected. I didn’t go there for a career.”

One of the arguments he makes against his Democratic challenger, state Rep. Abby Finkenauer, 29, is that she wants a career in Washington, he says.

But she’s making an issue out of the fact Blum says he wants term limits but won’t limit himself to no more than three terms in the House.

And Blum is criticized in a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee television ad for saying he’s for term limits but not limiting himself to three terms.

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“Rep. Finkenauer believes voters are the best term limits we have,” her spokeswoman, Kate Water, said. “We’ve seen that this year already in primaries and we’re going to see that on Election Day. This is really about Congressman Blum’s consistent pattern of saying something that sounds good and then doing something different. He ran on term limits, then said he wouldn’t term limit himself.”

“It’s just politics,” Blum said. He has no intention of “unilaterally disarming.”

“Let’s say Americans say we want to see a world with no nuclear weapons,” he said by way of explanation. “An admirable goal, right? Just like term limits. Would we want America to unilaterally disarm? Of course not. That’s the way I see term limits.”

He remains committed to the law even though “I would be term limited out,” he said.

Also, Blum, who co-chairs the House Term Limits Caucus with Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, says that if all of the supporters of term limits self-term limit, the support in Congress will be weakened, reducing the opportunity to legislate term limits.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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