Monday, September 19, 12pm Capitol Visitors Center

Topic: Amendments and the State of the 21st Century Senate

Speaker: James Wallner, Ph.D., Group Vice President, Research, The Heritage Foundation

Discussant: Molly E. Reynolds, Ph.D., Governance Study Fellow, Brookings Institution


The Senate has complex rules about the quantity and kinds of amendments that can be offered to a bill at any given time. As these rules have evolved, the way the Senate moves legislation has changed, sometime fomenting tensions within a chamber that traditionally has operated through comity. James Wallner, Ph.D. and former  executive director of the Senate Steering Committee, will discuss the Senate’s amendment processes and the implications of their evolution for the chamber as a whole. Dr. Wallner’s recent paper on the subject may be read here and the R Street’s recent study of the Senate amendment process is available here.


Lunch will be provided. Meetings are open to Capitol Hill staff (except interns); experts on Congress; and anyone else who cares about the well-being of America’s legislative branch. To encourage candid discussion, this meeting is not open to media. However, the group’s co-directors are available for interviews and comment. They can be reached at and


New America and the R Street Institute launched the Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group in spring 2016. The group’s was formed in response to the widespread perception that Congress is dysfunctional. The Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group aims to assess Congress’ capacity to perform its constitutional duties and to collaborate on ideas to improve the legislative branch’s performance in our separation-of-powers system.