With all due respect to Representative David Dreier who served in the House of Representatives from 1981-2013 and has and inside view of Congress at least the House, “it is worst than it looks”. To paraphrase a title of a book from Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein in their 2006 book about Congress. The public is obviously not always right and because of that I’m one of the last people who would ever advocate for a pure majoritarian social democratic form of government. But back in 2006 Congress’s approval rating was somewhere around fifteen-percent and now it is ten-percent on a good day.
And if you just look all the available evidence about Congress both the House and Senate, Congress is clearly broken. And then if you look at how the House and Senate deal with each other, which in many cases is not at all and how representatives and senators talk about the other chamber, it is even worst. Forget about liking each other the Republican House and Democratic Senate do not even respect each other. The American people voted for a divided Congress in the last two elections and that is exactly what they have. And Congress as a result is so divided that it can’t get its basic work done like a highway bill.
When Congress actually does come together and does some work. It generally starts with the Senate because House Republicans have this take it or leave it approach over there. “Pass our Republican bill, or we’ll pass nothing”. Which gets blocked by Senate Leader Reid because Democrats are in the majority and get to decide what comes to the floor in the Senate. Senate Democrats will then try to write their own bill that gets blocked by Senate Republicans because Senate Democrats don’t have the sixty votes for cloture which is how debate ends.
And then when cooler heads prevail which is how the Senate is supposed to operate anyway, practical Senate Democrats and Republicans come together and write a compromise. Which passes unless a group of very partisan Democratic and Republican Senators are able to block it, or get an amendment to the bill that makes the bill unpopular on both sides. But even when the Senate gets a compromise passed it is dead on arrival in the House because it is not a House Republican bill. And the bill at best is a temporary fix to a long-term problem. Which that line right there is all you need to know about why Congress doesn’t work. Temporary solutions to long-term problems.
If you think that is as bad as Congress can get, stay tuned because there is plenty more that will be written in the future. And no I don’t have a solution in how to fix Congress in one post. Because it is a bicameral legislature with both chambers needing fixing. I’m not sure I could write one post about how to fix the House or Senate that could cover all the issues in one post. And anyone including Representative David Dreier still wondering why Congress doesn’t work?