Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Deliberation in the Senate

In an article in PS, Frances E. Lee analyzes changes in the Senate's deliberative character:
The weakening of the Senate’s deliberative processes—routine obstruction hamstringing the body’s ability to consider and pass measures, loss of committee expertise, avoidance of conference committees, ad hoc decision making in leadership offices— makes Congress less serious and substantive as a policymaking institution. Executive branch officials dealing with complex policy issues can be forgiven if they seek out workarounds rather than engage with an institution that has become harder to mobilize while devoting more legislative resources to politicking and less to fostering policy expertise. Perhaps the Obama administration, for example, would be better advisedto start working with the Environmental Protection Agency to find ways to regulate carbon emissions under existing authorities rather than depend on the Senate to pass sweeping cap-and-trade legislation. Although internal congressional reforms and institutional adaptations may eventually help to counter these trends, it is also possible that the future of the Senate is to become progressively more of a veto player and a reactive/review body rather than an independent affirmative policymaker.