Pork and Deliberation

After the news of Senator Robert Byrd’s death broke this morning, I exchanged a couple of text messages with my brother.  In one of them, he wrote that Byrd’s “style of governance has been out for something like 20 years.”  Well, that’s certainly true, but leaves open a couple of questions: what is that style…

Separation of Powers and the Filibuster

I go back and forth on what I think about the propriety of the filibuster for legislative purposes, although I’m inclined towards the view that the filibuster is on the whole a good thing under those circumstances. The announcement by Sen. Ben Nelson that he would not only oppose but filibuster Obama’s nominee for the…

Health Care and Ping Pong

By Wyeth Ruthven Forget conference committees, any observer of health care reform needs to add the term “ping-pong” to their legislative vocabulary. Ping-pong is a little known but increasingly used procedural device to pass legislation. A 2008 report by Walter Oleszek for the Congressional Research Service describes ping-pong as “the exchange of amendments between the…

Eight Steps Towards A Less Dysfunctional Congress

by Kyle Mathews If there’s one thing that most political commentators and Americans can agree upon, it’s that Congress is bad at its job. Presidential approval ratings go up and down, Congressional approval ratings pretty much stay down. These days, it’s become de rigueur to point to hyper-partisanship, legislative relics who’ve all but become permanent…

Point of Order

An unanticipated side-effect of Joe Wilson’s outburst has been a pretty interesting discussion of parliamentary procedure, both at home and abroad. Congress Matters explains the relevant Senate rules and Andrew Sullivan compares Wilson’s interjection to heckling in the British House of Commons. For the record,  “terminological inexactitude” deserves wider currency.