New report: House committees are hearing from fewer witnesses and that hurts public policy.

Appearing today in the Washington Post, new research by John D. Rackey, Lauren C. Bell and Kevin R. Kosar examine how often Congress has heard from witnesses over the last 45 years.

Excerpts from the piece:

  • We collect and code every identifiable witness who appeared before every standing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1971 and 2016, accounting for 435,293 witnesses appearing in 42,509 hearings over that 45-year period. Several patterns emerge from the data.
  • The number of witnesses appearing before Congress peaked in the 95th Congress (1977-1978), when House panels heard from 32,898 witnesses. By the 114th Congress (2015-2016), the number declined by nearly 80 percent, so that panels heard from only 6,632 witnesses.
  • Congressional hearings feature fewer witnesses on average today than they did in the past. In the 95th Congress (1977-1978), Congress heard from an average of 17.1 witnesses per hearing; by the 114th Congress (2015-2016), only 4.2 witnesses on average appeared. Recent scholarship and our own data suggest that witness appearances continue to fall.

Read more in the Washington Post.

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Topics: Committees & Caucuses