Real purpose of the Senate: To check the actions of the House

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December 6, 2018
Niccolò Machiavelli was one of the principal architects of American constitutionalism. A heterodox thinker in his day, Machiavelli observed in his Discourses on Livy (1531): “Those who blame the quarrels of the Senate… Read More

Getting back to governing

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December 3, 2018
Last September, one of us (Spulak) co-authored an op-ed with George Crawford, another former Democratic staff director of the House Rules Committee, suggesting a simple, one-step way “to fix” Congress:… Read More

Special House rules explained

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November 20, 2018
In teaching introductory legislative procedure, the House Rules Committee is justifiably given a fair amount of attention given its outsized role in determining policy consideration for the… Read More

R Sheet on forcing votes

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November 16, 2018
KEY POINTS 1) Today’s majority leaders exercise unprecedented control over the Senate floor. 2) They do so to prevent their colleagues from offering amendments without their prior approval. 3) Leaders… Read More

Assessing McConnell’s Role in Judicial Confirmations

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November 14, 2018
The Senate has spent much of its time in the 115th Congress confirming President Trump’s judicial nominations. Before the midterm elections, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., touted… Read More

Reforming the Senate’s hotline system

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October 31, 2018
(Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared in Legislative Procedure on October 29, 2018.) Senators often blame their leaders whenever they are frustrated with how the Senate works. Yet they… Read More

‘Tis the season for changing how the Senate works

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October 29, 2018
(Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in Legislative Procedure on October 22, 2018.) In the Senate today, the legislative process is centralized under the control of the party leaders… Read More

More heat than light: New Conservative amending activity in the U.S. House

October 24, 2018
For almost a decade, House Republicans from the Tea Party, Liberty, and Freedom Caucuses—to whom we give the collective label “New Conservatives”—have repeatedly and publicly clashed with House Republican… Read More

Nationalized elections and the 2018 U.S. Senate midterms

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October 23, 2018
In the months leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, media outlets and academics have devoted considerable attention to the potential for Democratic gains in the U.S. House of Representatives. Read More

House “Dear Colleague” letter soliciting support for bipartisan rules reforms in the 116th Congress

October 22, 2018
Support Bipartisan Rules Reforms in the 116th Congress Sending Office: Honorable Derek KilmerRequest for Signature(s) Current cosigners: Kilmer, Buck, Rice, Bergman, Bustos, Gallagher, Bera, Biggs, Welch, Moulton,… Read More