Newspaper article Roll Call

Oleszek Wrote the Book on Congress | Procedural Politics

Newspaper article Roll Call

Oleszek Wrote the Book on Congress | Procedural Politics

Article excerpt

Oleszek has literally written the book on Congress, "Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process," now in its ninth edition from CQ Press. Most top staff have relied on the book as their procedural bible, from college to Congress and beyond.

Oleszek is recognized as the pre-eminent expert on Congress. (Courtesy American University)

The National Capital Area Political Science Association has formally acknowledged his unique stature in Washington. It recently honored Oleszek with its annual Walter Beach Pi Sigma Alpha Award for making "a substantial contribution to strengthening the relationship between political science and public service."

I can personally attest to Oleszek's vast knowledge and superb training skills. I benefited early from his wisdom when I arrived in the House in 1969 as a fresh-faced, clueless young legislative aide to a congressman.

In assisting my boss with his Rules Committee duties, I was assigned to keep close tabs on efforts to reform Congress. The House and Senate had created a joint committee in 1965 to make recommendations for improving the institution's capabilities. I had monitored its hearings for my boss as an intern four years earlier, so with my arrival as a full-time staffer, its recommendations were finally being readied in the House Rules Committee for floor consideration.

Oleszek was one of the CRS staff members assigned to assist the Rules Committee with amendments and in drafting the report. That markup led to the enactment of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 -- the first in a series of reform efforts in the early 1970s that led to the transformation of Congress in what political scientists refer to as the congressional reform revolution.

The revolution included establishment of a "committee bill of rights" to counter arbitrary and obstructive chairmen, and the overthrow of the seniority system that automatically elevated the longest-serving member on a committee to its chairmanship. That system was replaced, through a caucus rules change, with the election of chairmen by the party caucus. …

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