Legislative Process (Government)

Congress: Lively Debate in a Public Forum?

Today's Congress is a different group from the congenial group that first met in 1789: members oversee some 200 committees and subcommittees charged with disposing of the 9,000 bills introduced each session. Have too many moving parts put the national legislature beyond the control of even its most ardent supporters?

In its purest form, "policy" defines a course of action that outlines how the government is run, preferably in a way that promotes the nation's safety and general welfare. Somebody (or bodies) has to take the wheel, articulate a shared vision, and then build a consensus to implement it.

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Net Neutrality: (Lobbying) Shaking the Cash Tree

The blogosphere is still abuzz over "Net Neutrality," but as Congress winds down, among the biggest winners in the debate are candidates' war chests.

Of the thousands of bills introduced in Congress each year, one or two issues usually emerge from the legislative cauldron to become subjects of major policy debates. By pitting special interests against each other, these debates also become battlegrounds for lobbyists and fundraisers.

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Congressional Watchdog

Policy Today magazine cover showing three soldiers on patrol
February 1, 2006

Oversight in the legislative process is implied, but how effective is it?  {mosimage}

Oversight is a congressional obligation, but one frequently overlooked in legislators' focus on reelection. "They don't spend nearly enough time overseeing government agencies," laments Lodi, CA mayor John Beckman. "They think that because we call them 'legislator,' their job is to create more laws. They're failing in their primary responsibilities, which are to oversee the budget and various government agencies."

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Bad Apples and the Silent MC

Policy Today magazine cover politician in black and white
August 9, 2006

Congress has a lot of good apples, so why don't they toss out the bad ones?

Silence. The proverb says it's golden, but just as often it can preserve the blight that undermines the system. We're first exposed to the disgrace of "tattling" on the playground, where snitches face ridicule and social exile at the lunch table. In the Sicilian mafia, the code of silence is called "Omertà," and those who break it gamble with their lives.

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