Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How Broken Is Congress?

So broken. Even Congress itself knows its broken.

That well established, the question becomes how to make it less broken. Do you kill the filibuster? Kill the 60-vote threshold that's caused so many issues? Term limits? Longer workweeks? Less glorification of conflict?

How about split control of Congress? What is widely presumed to result in gridlock may just be for the best in the long run.

The President doesn't count. I mean Congress and Congress alone being split.

Think. How long has it been since we've had a full Congressional term with one house controlling the House and the other controlling the Senate? How much of Congress has never known an environment where they faced an opposition majority in the other chamber? How many current members of Congress have never known an environment where they've had no choice but to negotiate with the other house of Congress to even get anything to the President's desk? All most of them have known is an environment where one party can ram things through almost at will and the big fight is getting the President to sign the bill, if even that.

You know I'm about to tell you.

Jim Jeffords aside- his flip in May 2001 gave Congress four months of split control before 9/11 put everyone on the same page anyway- the last time Congress was split was the first six years of the Reagan Administration, concluding January 3, 1987.

42 Senators entered that body after the GOP asserted full control post-Jeffords, on or after January 3, 2003. 85 of them entered Congress on or after January 3, 1987.

197 members of the House entered that body on or after January 2, 2003. 395 of them entered on or after January 3, 1987.

Congress doesn't know how to negotiate with itself. It hasn't had to. Come November, it may have no choice.

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