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Congress

Event (March 20, 2018): High on the Hog: Rethinking Earmarks and Congress

Congress approved a moratorium on earmarks in 2010 in face of accusations of wasteful spending and transactional politics powerfully invoked by the controversy over the “bridge to nowhere.” In the years since, Congress has suffered from an inability to solve hard problems. Numerous congressional reformers connect this gridlock in part to the absence of earmarks, which gave elected legislators “skin in the game” and an incentive to deliberate about bipartisan policymaking. Others argue that a return to earmarks will only complicate the legislative agenda and potentially further enhance the public’s skepticism about Congress and its members.

Please join AEI as a panel of scholars and experts discuss the merits and drawback of reintroducing, reforming, or avoiding congressional earmarking.

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Event (May 8): Is Congress Broken?

The US Congress is regularly described as inefficient, ineffective, and polarized. How accurate is that description? Most reforms have sought to make Congress more open, responsive, and democratic. But have those reforms actually made Congress better at creating a governing consensus, overseeing the executive branch, and engaging in deliberation? What reforms might make Congress more effective, and what should be the standard for judging those reforms? Does the original constitutional design offer a better model for judging Congress today?

Please join AEI as a panel of scholars and experts discuss the state of Congress today and possible paths to reform.

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Why Veterans are Underrepresented in Congress

For well-on 30 years military veterans have been a decreasing presence in Congress. Any reversal of the declining trend will probably begin with the one tried-and-true way to gain legislative experience, build name recognition, and increase access to a fundraising network: election to a state legislature.

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Number of veterans in Congress continues to decline

Last week, Susan Davis at USA Today reported on the decreasing number of military veterans serving in the Congress, noting that “when the next session convenes in January, the two chambers will have the fewest number of veterans serving since World War II.”

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“The greatest deliberative body known to man”


Earlier this week, Congressman David Dreier (R-California), who has been serving in Congress since 1981, announced that he would retire from the legislative body at the end of his current term. In his five-minute speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, he acknowledged Congress’s “abysmally low approval rating” even as he praised the institution.

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