Photo of James Wallner

James Wallner

Senior Fellow, Governance Project, R Street Institute

James Wallner is a senior fellow of the R Street Institute and member of R Street’s Governance Project and Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group teams. He researches and writes about Congress, especially the Senate; the separation of powers; legislative procedure; and the federal policy process.

James joined R Street in July 2017 from the Heritage Foundation, where he was group vice president for research. He also serves as an adjunct professor in the politics department and the Congressional and Presidential Studies Program at the Catholic University of America as well as in the Department of Government at American University. Additionally, James is a Fellow at American University’s Center of Congressional and Presidential Studies.

Earlier in his career, he was executive director of the Senate Steering Committee during the chairmanships of Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Mike Lee, R-Utah. He also has served as legislative director to Toomey and to former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

He is the author of two books, The Death of Deliberation: Partisanship and Polarization in the United States Senate, published in 2013 and On Parliamentary War: Partisan Conflict and Procedural Change in the United States Senate published in 2017.

James received both his doctoral and master’s degrees in politics from the Catholic University of America. He also holds a master’s in international and European politics from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Georgia.

He currently lives on Capitol Hill with his wife, Kimberly; two children; and two golden retrievers.

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Road to the Supreme Court Runs Through Capitol Hill

September 23, 2020
(This post originally appeared on Legislative Procedure.) President Donald Trump announced that he will soon nominate someone to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Read More
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The Senate isn’t the problem, senators are

September 22, 2020
According to today’s conventional wisdom, people are deeply divided about politics. Liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, are at odds with one another when it comes to identifying the problems… Read More
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ICYMI: Shall we have a king?

September 10, 2020
King George III. Painting by Allan Ramsay, 1765. In January 1787, America’s top diplomat, John Jay, asked George Washington, its leading citizen, “Shall we have a King?” Neither… Read More
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Speaking up for the filibuster

August 27, 2020
The filibuster is one of the great bugbears of American politics. Democrats and Republicans have routinely blamed the infamous practice when the Senate fails to act on their policy priorities. Read More
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Podcast: What values are essential in a successful democracy?

June 29, 2020
Listen here. In this special bonus episode of Politics In Question, Julia Azari, Lee Drutman, and James Wallner discuss the values that make democracies successful. What exactly are… Read More
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How the Senate keeps track of its precedents

April 22, 2019
An intricate architecture of rules and practices governs the legislative process in the Senate. The institution’s procedural structure rests on five interlocking supports: the Constitution; the Standing Rules of the… Read More
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Republicans go nuclear: An after action report

April 8, 2019
Republicans in the Senate finally acted to change the rules to speed up the confirmation process for some presidential nominations. They used the nuclear option to shorten the amount of… Read More
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Three ways Republicans can go nuclear

April 1, 2019
Frustrated by how long it takes to confirm President Trump’s nominees, Republicans are accusing Democrats of dragging out unnecessarily the time permitted under the rules after the Senate has invoked… Read More
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Republicans poised to nuke legislative filibuster

April 1, 2019
In 2017, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pledged not to abolish the legislative filibuster. He did so to persuade his fellow Republicans to back his plan to use… Read More
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Rule change empowers leaders to silence senators

April 1, 2019
Republicans in the Senate want to change the rules to speed up the confirmation process for presidential nominations. Yet their proposal goes much further. It empowers the majority and minority… Read More