WASHINGTON, D.C. (Erie News Now) -- According to a 2023 study by the Pew Research Center, the vast majority of American adults are in favor of term limits for Congress. 

Congress has a dismal approval rating of about 12 percent, the lowest since the government shutdown in 2015. Yet, despite low approval, in the past and present, incumbent members of Congress continue to almost always get re-elected. 

87 percent of Americans believe term limits could be the solution. 

“We want term limits. It's straightforward. It's simple, and it breaks up the sort of arrogant power that Washington, D.C. has become known for,” said Paul Jacob, a board member for U.S. Term Limits, the nationwide group advocating for term limits at all levels of government. 

Recent surveys show 90 percent of registered Republicans and 86 percent of registered Democrats support limiting the number of terms that members of Congress can serve. 

“The American people want term limits. They want to know that no one, no matter how popular at the moment, is going to be able to stay forever in power,” said Jacob. 

Jacob believes the longer a lawmaker is on Capitol Hill, the more disconnected they become with their constituents. 

“You start to get comfortable term after term, you're gaining more and more power, but you're also getting more and more removed from your constituents,” said Jacob. 

Lawmakers we spoke with said that’s not always the case. 

“Why would you want to take anybody out of office that has done a great job for you only because time's up,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R- PA), who has served in the House since 2011. 

Rep. Kelly says experience matters when it comes to delivering results. If voters aren’t satisfied with those results, he says they have the power to term limit their elected officials. 

“Term limits are determined by people who get registered, get informed and get out and vote. Those are the people that control term limits,” said Kelly. 

Many Democrats agree.  

“If people come out and vote, they can change people every two years, or in the Senate every six years,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow (D- MI), who has served in the Senate since 2001. 

But losing as an incumbent is rare. 

“The truth is the power of incumbency, from the free mail they get to send out at taxpayer expense to the name I.D., to the fact that they have a vote on power right now, and that means they raise a ton more money than challengers,” said Jacob. 

According to the non-partisan watchdog group, OpenSecrets, incumbents running in 2022 Senate races raised an average of $29.7 million each, a massive advantage over the average $2.1 million raised by their challengers.  

The contrast is true in the House, just not as expensive. 

In the 2022 midterms, incumbent representatives, on average, raised $2.8 million each. That’s roughly nine-times more than the $308,000 raised by their challengers. 

That’s one of the reasons Jacob and U.S. Term Limits are pushing for change- a constitutional change. 

“We're looking at how we get a constitutional amendment to limit members of Congress,” said Jacob. 

A 1995 Supreme Court decision declared that states could not “individually” impose term limits on their own federal legislators, or members of Congress. 

Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows either 34 states at convention or both chambers of Congress to propose constitutional amendments. Three-fourths, or 38 states, would then have to ratify the proposal for it to be enshrined as law. 

It may be a tall task, but Jacob says it’s only a matter of time. 

“The question is when. It's going to happen, but when,” said Jacob. 

A Congressional term limits amendment limiting members of the House to three terms (six years) and members of the Senate to two terms (12 years) was introduced earlier this session. However, it narrowly failed in a 17-19 vote to move out of the House Judiciary Committee in September. The effort was shot down by both Democrats and Republicans on the committee.