Congress from the Inside: Observations from the Majority and the Minority

Congress from the Inside: Observations from the Majority and the Minority

Congress from the Inside: Observations from the Majority and the Minority

Congress from the Inside: Observations from the Majority and the Minority

Synopsis

In the second edition of Congress from the Inside, Sherrod Brown updates his insider's view of the workings of Congress with lively discussions of the Clinton impeachment, continued haggling over prescription drug legislation, and the "Battle in Seattle" over the 1999 World Trade Organization conference.

Congress from the Inside has received high praise from the academic and political worlds for its intimate look at Washington politics. Ideal for both classroom and armchair reading, Brown's book depicts the inner-working and deal-makings of Congress. He walks the reader through the crafting of legislation and tours the offices and meeting rooms where so much of the work of the legislature is done, introducing us to the names and faces of power. With incisive candor, Brown exposes the strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, diversity and elitism of the United States Congress.

Excerpt

This book IS ABOUT POLITICS, elections, governing, and people ... powerful people. Not a kiss-and-tell, it's an instructive book of what my first terms in Congress were like and what has transpired in the years since.

This story of a newly elected representative navigating his way through Congress begins in hopeful times, when most of us were optimistic that partisan gridlock was over, as a huge, diverse, goal-oriented freshman class was sworn in. The plot twists as signs of trouble for the Democrats begin to surface, culminating in the 1994 elections that would abruptly end four decades of Democratic control of Congress. There were signs of impending electoral disaster for the Democrats, but signs that few Democrats or Republicans saw or understood at the time: the negative public reaction to the Clinton budget; the savaging of the majority party by talk radio, and its influence on the mail that came into congressional offices; the anger evident at town meetings; the public discomfort with, or even fear of, comprehensive health care reform; the rage expressed by many over gun-control measures.

The frenetic first one hundred days of the I04th Congress—the first Republican Congress in forty years—were very partisan, and often nasty, as both sides tried to adapt to their new roles. Democrats were stunned and dispirited. Once-powerful committee chairs had an especially difficult time adjusting to minority status. Amendments by freshmen Republicans were routinely passed; amendments by senior Democrats almost never were. Elated Republicans, meanwhile, attempted to run an institution that none of them had ever run.

Speaker Newt Gingrich used military terminology and tactics to discipline his troops and carry out his Contract with America. But with the government shutdown in the fall of 1995 and the negative public reaction to the Speaker, it was clear that Gingrich and the first-term Republicans had gone too far too fast.

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