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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Senate Parliamentarian

James Wallner at
Senators’ increased dependence on the parliamentarian, whether or not they are presiding over the chamber, suggests an erosion of procedural knowledge in the Senate. Today, senators members spend less time on the floor, observing the legislative process in action. During the limited time in which senators are in Washington, their schedules are dominated instead by committee hearings, constituent meetings, and fundraisers. More than in the past, senators return to their states at the first possible chance to spend time with families that remain behind or to engage in a permanent campaign to win reelection. Given all of this, senators have fewer incentives and less time to develop the procedural knowledge necessary to participate effectively in the legislative process. As Riddick concluded, “It was just natural that they had to begin to depend on somebody to do the procedural aspects for them, leaving to themselves the substantive matters to be put into legislation.”