Congress Overwhelmed: The Decline in Congressional Capacity and Prospects for Reform (Paperback)

Congress Overwhelmed: The Decline in Congressional Capacity and Prospects for Reform Cover Image

Congress Overwhelmed: The Decline in Congressional Capacity and Prospects for Reform (Paperback)

By Timothy M. LaPira (Editor), Lee Drutman (Editor), Kevin R. Kosar (Editor)


In Stock—Click for Locations
Politics and Prose at 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW
1 on hand, as of Dec 8 1:18am
Congress today is falling short. Fewer bills, worse oversight, and more dysfunction. But why? In a new volume of essays, the contributors investigate an underappreciated reason Congress is struggling: it doesn’t have the internal capacity to do what our constitutional system requires of it. Leading scholars chronicle the institutional decline of Congress and the decades-long neglect of its own internal investments in the knowledge and expertise necessary to perform as a first-rate legislature. Today’s legislators and congressional committees have fewer—and less expert and experienced—staff than the executive branch or K Street. This leaves them at the mercy of lobbyists and the administrative bureaucracy.

The essays in Congress Overwhelmed assess Congress’s declining capacity and explore ways to upgrade it. Some provide broad historical scope. Others evaluate the current decay and investigate how Congress manages despite the obstacles. Collectively, they undertake the most comprehensive, sophisticated appraisal of congressional capacity to date, and they offer a new analytical frame for thinking about—and improving—our underperforming first branch of government.
Timothy M. LaPira is associate professor of political science at James Madison University. He is coauthor, with Herschel F. Thomas, of Revolving Door Lobbying.

Lee Drutman is a senior fellow in the Political Reform Program at the New America Foundation think tank. He is the author of The Business of America is Lobbying.

Kevin Kosar is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of Unleashing Opportunity and Failing Grades.
Product Details ISBN: 9780226702575
ISBN-10: 022670257X
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: December 7th, 2020
Pages: 352
“Congress Overwhelmed brings together a strong set of congressional scholars addressing some of the most important issues facing the institution today. It will appeal not just to other scholars but also to observers of Congress, such as members of the media, staffers, and anyone working in and around Capitol Hill. The book offers an honest assessment of existing congressional limitations and how Congress can become more productive and functional."
— Josh Ryan, Utah State University

“Congress Overwhelmed brings together the leading experts on Congress to address a critical issue facing American democracy: what can be done to ensure that Congress fulfills its role as a coequal branch in our political system? The volume provides a clear and compelling account of the many challenges facing today’s Congress and offers valuable lessons for reformers seeking to improve the legislative branch’s capacity.”
— Eric Schikler, University of California, Berkeley