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Dodging Dead Cats: What Would It Take to Get Congress to Expand Capacity?

Dodging Dead Cats: What Would It Take to Get Congress to Expand Capacity?

Chapter:
(p.268) 17 Dodging Dead Cats: What Would It Take to Get Congress to Expand Capacity?
Source:
Congress Overwhelmed
Author(s):
Anthony MadonnaIan Ostrander
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226702605.003.0017

The US Congress has expanded its own institutional capacity rarely and reluctantly due to the fear that it would be interpreted by the public as an expansion of member perks and benefits. This hesitance to support Congress as an institution is especially pronounced in debates concerning the initial creation and later expansions of congressional staffing. Despite its reluctance, Congress has at times successfully added to its staffing support in institutional reforms such as the landmark Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. However, staffing resources in Congress have stagnated in recent decades and the branch now often finds itself dependent on the expertise of special-interest lobbyists and executive branch personnel. This chapter explores the likely pathways and circumstances in which Congress might again expand its capacity through adding congressional staff support. First, it briefly highlights the congressional history of debates over staffing. Second, it examines the viability of “running against Congress” by running against congressional staff. We conclude the chapter with an examination of the practical politics of reform.

Keywords:   Congress, congressional capacity, congressional staff, political reform, congressional debates, running against Congress, politics of reform

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