Voices & Choices

The State of Congress

The State of Congress

A new report shows deep problems in Congress. Could the Fair Representation Act be a path forward?

A recent article in The Fulcrum, “Capitol Hill insiders say Congress is ineffective but can be fixed,”paints a vivid picture of partisan dysfunction through the eyes of Congressional staffers. It outlines the “State of Congress 2022” report, a joint project of the Congressional Management Foundation and the Partnership for Public Service, which polled staffers on their perceptions of the current state of Congress. 

“While staffers were critical of Congress, the goal of the report wasn’t to find fault but to assess the capacity, functionality and effectiveness in hopes of finding a path toward a more functional legislative branch.

The report was generated to ‘capture the snapshot of the state of Congress now, not for the purposes of embarrassing the institution, but rather to be a benchmark that can be used to measure improvement’” - Congressional Management Foundation President and CEO Brad Fitch.

Overwhelmingly, staffers across both parties agree that extreme polarization is preventing Congress from functioning effectively. 

“One-quarter [of surveyed staffers] believe ‘Congress currently functions as a democratic legislature should,’ with Democrats a bit more pessimistic than Republicans… Only 4 percent said that they were ‘very satisfied’ with Congress’s current state.”

Participants agree that the legislative body lacks the “decorum and civility” needed to pass bipartisan legislation.

“Overwhelming numbers of Democrats and Republicans believe that civility among lawmakers is ‘very important’ but only 1 percent of those surveyed were ‘very satisfied’ on that front. ‘Not civility, for ... civility’s sake, but civility towards an end, which is to make our democracy work better,’ Fitch said.”

“Along the same lines, 93 percent of both Democrats and Republicans believe that collaboration between party lines is necessary to best serve the nation’s needs, but very few believed that building a relationship would be easy.”

While the respondents’ answers may confirm what many Americans already believed about the state of Congress, they show that insiders are also aware of its problems. With insiders acknowledging where Congress is failing, it’s time to talk seriously about solutions. 

By encouraging candidates to reach outside their traditional bases of support and reducing the zero-sum game of U.S. House campaigns and governance, the Fair Representation Act (FRA) can reduce hyperpartisanship, increase civility, and promote cross-partisan cooperation in Congress. This single piece of legislation can be passed by statute, and will have a broad impact on solving the problems outlined in the State of Congress report. 

You can help create a more effective Congress by supporting the Fair Representation Act today.

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