A First Report of the Renewing Congress Project

A First Report of the Renewing Congress Project

A First Report of the Renewing Congress Project

A First Report of the Renewing Congress Project


The Renewing Congress Project, a joint effort of the American Enterprise Institute and The Brookings Institution, is designed to provide an independent assessment of Congress and to offer recommendations for improving its effectiveness and restoring its legitimacy within the American political system.

The project is guided by an Advisory Committee consisting of Richard F. Fenno, Jr., University of Rochester, Charles O. Jones, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Nelson W. Polsby, University of California, Berkeley, Cokie Roberts, National Public Radio and ABC News, and Catherine E. Rudder, American Political Science Association. Dozens of individuals from the academic, governmental, policy, and journalistic communities have contributed to the project by participating in roundtable discussions and conferences, conducting research, and writing memoranda and commissioned papers. We are especially grateful to the many members of Congress who spent hours with us discussing the problems of the institution. Many of their comments from our roundtables are used in this report to underscore our discussion and recommendations.

During the course of its two-year life, the project will issue a series of studies and reports, including some designed for the new Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. This initial report is intended to provide new and returning members of the House of Representatives with a perspective on congressional reform as it relates to the organizing meetings of the House Democratic Caucus and the House Republican Conference in early December. Institutional issues facing the Senate as well as broader concerns about the budget process, committee jurisdictions and executive--legislative relations will be addressed in subsequent reports.

Many individuals contributed to the preparation of this initial report. Matt Pinkus, a guest scholar at The Brookings Institution and a consultant to the project, drafted major sections and contributed invaluable counsel. Kim Coursen and Todd Quinn contributed research assistance throughout the course of the study. Countless others offered detailed critiques of a draft of this report. We are grateful to all of them.

Financial support for the Renewing Congress Project is provided by a number of private foundations, including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The John and Mary R. Markle Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, Inc., and The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc.

The interpretations and conclusions presented here are solely ours and should not be ascribed to the persons whose assistance is acknowledged above, to any group that funded the research reported herein, or to the trustees, officers, or other staff members of the American Enterprise Institute or The Brookings Institution.

Thomas E. Mann Director of Governmental Studies The Brookings Institution

Norman J. Ornstein Resident Scholar American Enterprise Institute

November 1992 Washington, D.C.

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