Legislative Politics

“Congress no longer knows how to govern.”

John Sides Feb 17 '10

That is the conclusion of political scientists Thad Hall and Scott Adler, writing in _Roll Call_. They argue that Congress is shirking its responsibilities:

bq. Since 1985, the Congressional Budget Office annually issues a report listing programs that have not had their funding reauthorized. That report has shown that, over the past two decades, Congress has increasingly abdicated its basic governing responsibilities. Consider the following numbers: In 1993, there were 59 programs operating with an expired authorization. Today, there are 250…

bq. …Effectively, by not reauthorizing or — as is increasingly the case — appropriating, Congress is leaving to the administration and the agencies themselves the responsibility for their own future. Nowadays, any legislative direction agencies receive is through riders attached to omnibus bills.

They conclude:

bq. Lawmakers today understand the partisan fight, but the act of actually governing requires doing things that are not merely designed to score political points. Instead of governing, we get financial meltdowns, near-miss terrorist attacks, and the potential for many more failures of government responsibility. While Democrats and Republicans play petty politics, America awaits competent governing.

An ungated version of the piece is here.