New Directions in Legislative Research: Lessons from Inside Congress

PSC49_03by Michael H. Crespin (University of Oklahoma) and Anthony J. Madonna (University of Georgia)

Over the last several decades, power and control over public policy has moved away from the legislative branch towards the executive and judicial branches. Critics lament the perceived increased use of unilateral presidential tools, claiming an out of control imperial presidency. Others worry that judges insulated from electoral pressure are effectively making policy with high profile rulings in cases such as Shelby Counter v. Holder and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

In this issue of PS: Political Science & Politics, we asked several members of Congress to join us in reflecting on these changes in long-form essays. The essays—written by Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Dina Titus (D-NV), former-Representative John Barrow (D-GA) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)—highlight both some clear consensuses and notable disagreements. All the essays agreed that Congress is weakening and that this has negative normative implications for American democracy. They also agreed that both ideological changes external to Congress and internal congressional rules and processes—specifically the centralization at the hands of chamber leaders—were to blame. However, the authors debated whether ideological shifts were asymmetric and the extent to which congressional dysfunction was internal as opposed to being influenced by electoral factors.

Read more here.

PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 49 / Issue 03 / July 2016, pp 473-477 / Copyright © American Political Science Association 2016