Do We Need a Joint Committee on Congress?
Michael S. Johnson and the Congressional Institute think so. In Washington Monthly, he writes:
Congress does not function. The productivity of the last Congress was the worst in history. Members of Congress have a favorability rating hovering around 13 percent according to the latest Gallup poll. It’s gotten to be a universal truth, not just here but around the world: The greatest deliberative, democratic political body in history doesn’t work anymore.
The good news is there are solutions, from conservatives and liberals, public servants and private citizens, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations, and the media. Some are simple, and some are highly complex. The bad news is that despite the abundance of ideas, these potential solutions lack a credible path to enactment, either by rule or by law. Proposing reform is not enacting it, and advocating change is not making it.
What, then, could bring about true change in Washington?
The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is a committee. But not just any committee – a rarely-used Joint Committee of Congress made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, House members and Senators, working with the Executive Branch. Congress can and should give this Joint Committee broad authority to confront the wide array of serious problems gradually eating away at our system of self-government, ranging from restricted access to legislating to political and ideological rigidity. More importantly, unlike any other mechanism, it would focus and engage the public in the restorative process.