Congress’s capacity to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities as the First Branch has declined considerably over the last several decades and is reaching a crisis point. New America has joined forces with the R Street Institute to form the Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group, which convenes a bipartisan group of reformers inside and outside of Congress to develop ideas and build community around improving congressional capacity, creating momentum for a congressional reform effort. This working group has helped build a community of policymakers, academics, and advocates interested in solving such issues as congressional capacity and the lack of diversity among congressional staff. New America also convened a group of political scientists to develop a deeper and broader case for re-building congressional capacity, and to help develop ideas and expertise to feed into a potential future congressional reform effort.
In an era of increasing executive overreach, a vibrant First Branch of government has become much more important. In our system of checks and balances, Congress stands as the institutional check on the many potential overreaches of executive power that a Trump administration could abuse. The case for strengthening Congress has never been more important.