The Value of the APSA Congressional Fellowship in an Era of Dysfunction

The latest virtual issue of PS features articles written by alumni of the Congressional Fellowship Program (CFP) from 2010 to 2015. The CFP fellows serve yearlong placements in congressional and executive offices, and they chronicle their firsthand experiences in the pages of PS. Enjoy the full virtual issue here.

The Value of the APSA Congressional Fellowship in an Era of Dysfunction

PSC 49 V2 CoverJake Haselswerdt (George Washington University), Jeffrey Fine (Clemson University), Emily Lynch (The Ohio State University) and Lindsey Herbel (Georgia State University)

“The 61st class of the APSA’s Congressional Fellowship Program arrived last November, shortly following the end of the 16-day federal government shutdown that headlines the list of reasons why some have called this the “worst Congress ever” (Bolton 2014). Criticisms of Congress have become commonplace, both from outside the institution and from its current and former members. Therefore, it is not surprising that the American public holds Congress in such low esteem, with an approval rating of 15 percent in the latest Gallup poll (Gallup 2014). And while the views of Congress are bleak, political scientists like Mann and Ornstein (2012a) go one step further by arguing, “it’s even worse than it looks.”

Despite these critiques, we argue that there is much to learn about the institution by working within it. While the second session of the 113th Congress has been short on legislative accomplishments to date, it would be inaccurate to say that nothing of interest has happened. We argue that political scientists can still find a great deal to interest them in Congress, provided that they take a broad view of legislative success, acknowledge the policy activity that does take place even in a dysfunctional environment, and pay attention to the important business of building constituent relationships. In this essay, we address each of these points from the standpoint of our experience on Capitol Hill…” Read More.

PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 47 / Issue 04 / October 2014, pp 915-919