A couple of weeks ago I was speaking to a group of students and decided to start with a point-blank question: Is Congress doing a good job? There were perhaps 100 people in the room, and not a single one raised his or her hand.
So I asked the question a different way: Is Congress nearly or completely dysfunctional? Most hands went up.
These were not experts, of course. They were simply reflecting a broad public consensus that things are not working well on Capitol Hill. But they weren’t wrong, either. Things aren’t working well on Capitol Hill.
I can tick off the problems, and so can you. Congress doesn’t follow good process. It seems to have lost the ability to legislate. It’s too polarized and partisan. It’s dominated by political game-playing, and by the undue influence of money. It defers too readily to the president. Routine matters get bottled up. Its output is low, and it simply cannot pass a budget on time.
By Lee Hamilton • Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years