Congress Publications

Appropriations Process Wilts in the Sunshine

Jul 26, 2012
While the House and Senate appropriations committees were off to a good start this spring in reporting most of their 12 money bills, the process slowed down considerably this summer with a raft of floor amendments. This portends a repeat of last year with no bills enacted by the start of the fiscal year and an omnibus bill wrapping things up well past the deadline, writes Don Wolfensberger in his Procedural Politics column. more

Contempt Charges Are Not Partisan Fodder

Jul 16, 2012
While House Democrats charged Republicans with playing politics by forcing a contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder, and some Republican Members seemed too anxious to punish the Attorney General by pushing Speaker John Boehner for an earlier vote, Wolfensberger points out that neither party nor branch of government stands to gain politically from what is a complex interbranch dispute over documents related to the government’s botched Fast and Furious gun-walking operation in the southwest U.S. more

In Blaming Republicans, Authors Miss the Point

Jun 22, 2012
Two prominent political scientists claim Republicans are principally to blame for Washington’s dysfunction because they are more extreme and less inclined to compromise. In this article, Don Wolfensberger notes Congress has been just as dysfunctional under Democratic majorities and the fault lies in the increasing polarization between the parties and the imperatives of “the permanent campaign” to hold on to power by shaping legislation for political purposes rather than finding common ground in the national interest. more

Incivility May Be Down, but ‘Uncivility’ Persists

Jun 22, 2012
A recent study credits Congresses of the last decade as being more civil than their predecessors in the 1990s. However, the study is based on the narrow metric of how often House Members are called to order for uttering unparliamentary language questioning the character of a colleague. Wolfensberger maintains that such acts of incivility may be down but the “uncivility” of depersonalizing and ignoring Members of the other party is on the upswing. more

Congressional Staffers Play Quiet, Vital Role

Jun 22, 2012
Wolfensberger praises the Stennis Center’s Congressional Fellows Program that has trained some 240 senior staff over the last two decades, for personifying the extraordinary quality and character of the young people who assist House and Senate Members in carrying out their duties. more

Revisiting the Budget Control Act Is Inevitable

May 08, 2012
The dispute this spring between the House and Senate over whether a congressional budget resolution is even necessary this year highlights difficulties down the road as the two houses weigh-in with widely divergent spending numbers writes Don Wolfensberger in Roll Call. more

Parliamentarians Hold Unruly House Together

May 08, 2012
The retirement of House Parliamentarian John Sullivan drew tributes from both House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on the importance of the Office of Parliamentarian in holding the House together, and the special qualities required for the postion, chief among them, the ability to withstand extreme pressures in one of politics’ biggest pressure cookers. more

Trade and Development in Africa: Congressional Study Trip to Ghana and Liberia

Apr 26, 2012
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Wilson Center) sponsored a congressional study trip to Ghana and Liberia from March 20 to March 26, 2011. It was organized by Wilson Center on the Hill and the Africa Program at the Wilson Center. This trip was funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. more

Taking Stock of House-Senate Differences

Mar 21, 2012
I am often asked about the differences between the House and Senate. Sometimes I jokingly respond, “Do you have another hour?” However, some political scientists make the case that the two bodies have become more alike. more

Obama’s Reorganization Plan Faces Long Odds

Mar 08, 2012
President Obama is asking Congress to renew a fast-track government reorganization process that expired in 1984. He would first use the process to submit a plan to consolidate various trade-related agencies and functions in a newly name and reconfigured Commerce Department. Congress is leery of giving presidents carte blanch authority to get an up-or-down vote on their plans, especially under divided party government. There is nothing to prevent Congress from using the normal legislative process to deliberate and amend the president’s reorganization proposals. more

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Dialogue

The Future of Higher Education

Mar 26, 2014Apr 02, 2014

Jeff Abernathy and Richard Morrill discuss how colleges and universities are dealing with rapidly rising costs and how the United States can still compete for students in a globalized environment.