Even though the Founders conceived Congress as the most powerful of the three branches of government, today the legislative branch is widely regarded as weak, indolent, and even irrelevant.
With the imbalance of power and accountability that has been created by this political vacuum, Congress has lapsed into problematic behavior that is both expensive and harmful to the notion of representative government.
What can Congress do to mend its ways and restore the balance of power? David McIntosh, Tom Davis, and Barry Loudermilk discuss the problems that most plague the legislative branch, including issues such as earmarks, appropriations, continuing resolutions, filibusters, judicial appointments, and political polarization.
- Moderator: David McIntosh, President, Club for Growth
- Tom Davis, former Congressman, Virginia's 11th District
- Barry Loudermilk, Congressman, Georgia's 11th District
Since the passage of the The 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act, Congress has successfully managed to follow the twelve-step budget process only four times.
Why does Congress continue the pretense of following a system that doesn't work? Is there any way to reform the budget process to account for deficits, debt, overspending, and the bigger picture? James Lankford explores potential budgetary reforms that will help the legislative branch to regain the power of the purse.
- James Lankford, Senator, Oklahoma
The Constitution was carefully designed to balance powers between three federal branches and the states, but over the years disparities between both the federal and the state governments and the executive and legislative branches have become increasingly pronounced.
Does the balance of powers still function as intended by the Founders? John Kyl examines the gradual deterioration of the constitutional structure and consequences of this growing imbalance for issues such as international affairs, judicial nominations, and congressional leadership.
- Moderator: Susan Dudley, Director, George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center
- John Kyl, former Senator, Arizona
As the upper chamber of Congress, the Senate functions as a check on the legislative process. Many have complained, however, that the Senate is obstructionist, anti-majoritarian, and overly partisan.
Is the Senate broken? Or is it operating as intended by the framers of the Constitution? Daniel Flores, Christopher DeMuth, Matt Glassman, and James Wallner discuss their views on Senate reform.
- Moderator: Daniel Flores, Chief Counsel, Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law for the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives
- Christopher DeMuth, Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute
- Matt Glassman, Senior Fellow, Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University
- James Wallner, Senior Fellow, R Street Institute
Under the Constitution, the legislative branch possesses full authority over trade policy. Congress, however, has delegated much of this power to regulate trade to the executive branch, creating a number of serious issues, from trade wars to favoritism to economic depression.
What can Congress do to counteract the consequences of their abdication? Mike Lee discusses the history of Congress' trade powers, suggesting a procedural solution to restore the balance of powers intended by the Founders.
- Michael Lee, Senator, Utah
In both the House and the Senate, it has become extremely difficult to build consensus, which in turn creates gridlock, dysfunction, and partisanship.
Does Congress need to reform its processes altogether? Or should it return to earlier methods of committees, conferencing, and compromise? Machalagh Carr, Josh Chafetz, David Schoenbrod, and David Hoppe reflect on the processes of Congress which enable the legislative branch to effectively wield its constitutional powers.
- Moderator: Machalagh Carr, General Counsel & Parliamentarian, Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives
- Josh Chafetz, Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
- David Schoenbrod, Professor of Law, New York Law School
- David Hoppe, President, Hoppe Strategies