Sign calling for Congress to do its job, from rally to end the January 2019 government shutdown.

Editor’s Introduction | The Performance and Capacity of the Modern Congress

Charles J. Finocchiaro | Editor

The contemporary Congress is a much-maligned institution. Public approval levels remain low, we see recurring fights over funding the government and raising the debt limit, and questions remain about the ability of Congress to serve as a co-equal branch of government. This issue of Extensions takes up the question of how to think about the performance of Congress and some potential solutions for its maladies.

First, Representative Dan Lipinski, a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, advances a number of proposals for modernizing Congress and helping its members get back to legislating effectively. Second, Casey Burgat, Resident Senior Fellow at R Street, examines the investment disparity between the legislative and executive branches and argues that Congress needs more resources in order to effectively carry out its oversight responsibilities. And finally, Professor Michelle Whyman of Florida State University presents exciting new data on legislative provisions adopted by Congress over time. Her data show that the oft-advanced account of a legislatively unproductive modern Congress is overstated in important ways.

We hope that you enjoy this first “all-digital” issue of Extensions and will help us spread the word and disseminate it widely. Our goal is to expand its impact through the migration to a digital format. Stay tuned for our next issue in the spring of 2020!

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