The Tribune, the Triumvirate, and the Ethos of the Senate

June 27, 2019
James Madison famously predicted that the constitution’s division of power would be enforced by the “personal motives” of those individuals holding public office. Ambition is made to counteract ambition when… Read More

If we want to improve lawmaking, we need to distinguish capacity from advantage

June 3, 2019
Citizens, the news media, and legislators themselves have become increasingly concerned about Congress’s ability to carry out its core functions, from lawmaking to representation of public opinion on policy matters… Read More

Honest messengers: How symbolic messaging votes in Congress match vote choices on “real” votes

May 20, 2019
Members of Congress take many votes on policies that have no hope of becoming law. Often called “messaging votes” or “position taking votes,” they allow members the chance to reveal… Read More

Do members of Congress suffer the consequences of scandal?

May 6, 2019
Scandals in Congress are common. On average, at least one member of the House of Representatives is found every two months to be involved in a personal imbroglio or… Read More

Make Congress (properly) political again

April 10, 2019
Chris DeMuth’s new essay powerfully and convincingly argues that well-functioning representative government is a necessary condition for national cohesion in our democratic age. DeMuth is not starry-eyed about legislatures, or… Read More

The value of seniority in today’s House of Representatives

April 10, 2019
During the “Textbook Congress” era from roughly the late-1940s to the early-1970s, seniority was tremendously valuable to members of Congress, particularly in the House.  Since World War II, data demonstrate… Read More

In defense of passionate women

March 14, 2019
March is Women’s History Month, a fitting precursor to an even bigger celebration. On June 4, 2019, the United States will begin its centennial commemoration of the nineteenth… Read More

McConnell is not omnipotent

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March 11, 2019
This week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggested that he alone has the power to select the measures on which his colleagues vote. When McConnell was asked why the… Read More

Why Pelosi doesn’t want to change the rules

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March 6, 2019
A little-known procedural tool called the “motion to recommit” is suddenly all over the news. This is because House Republicans have successfully used the motion twice this year to force politically… Read More

Highlights from the new 115th Congress legislative effectiveness scores

March 6, 2019
The Center for Effective Lawmaking is pleased to announce the release of the Legislative Effectiveness Scores (LES) for the recently completed 115th Congress (2017-18).  As in all previous releases, the scores… Read More