Those of us who follow the work of Congress have known for some time that this vital constitutional institution is not functioning very well, if at all. Many books, articles, reports, blogs, and a chorus of talking heads, from both sides of the political spectrum have offered analysis, explaining what is wrong and in some cases suggesting how to fix it.
Today a new report, “Getting Back to Legislating: Reflections of a Congressional Working Group,” written by Don Wolfensberger, a long-time top Hill staffer and congressional scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, states the case as clearly and succinctly as anything I have seen. This report is only 29 pages long, including 11 pages of tables.
The Executive Summary of the report is a model of brevity that even a busy member of Congress has time to read. It is one-page long. I don’t say this to be sarcastic. Anyone who works for top government officials knows that you need to get your message onto a single page so it can be read between floors on the elevator. First you have to grab attention. The details can follow later.
For the past year and a half the Bipartisan Policy Center held a series of meetings on “How to Fix Congress.” The report is a distillation of the ideas of congressional scholars, current and former members of Congress, senior congressional staff members, and others.