Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Jeff Bergner: The Vanishing Congress


Why is today’s Congress so dysfunctional? Are today’s legislators worse? What reforms could improve Congress?

Jeff Bergner has had a distinguished career in government, having served as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs (2005 – 2008), Chief of Staff to Senator Richard Lugar, and Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Drawing on his new book “The Vanishing Congress,” Bergner shares his perspective on why Congress has increasingly ceded its Constitutional authority. Many have proposed fixes like campaign finance reform or term limits to solve these problems. But Bergner asserts that Congress has encumbered itself with many unhelpful practices. Bergner suggests reforms that might strengthen Congress, including trimming down Congressional staff and eliminating the Senate filibuster. Finally, Bill Kristol and Bergner discuss how the executive branch and legislative branch interact with one another, and how this relationship might be improved.

There are 3 comments.

  1. Profile Photo Member

    Eliminate the Administrative State all together, and then force Congress to do it’s job.

    As it is now, Congress punts any difficult issue to some Administrative Agency for the Lobbyists to work out in conjunction with the deeply Progressively bureaucratic hacks behind closed doors and without any accountability. That is the way the Progressives and the Deep State want it. Time to end that unconstitutional punting of power.

    • #1
    • February 24, 2019, at 1:11 PM PST
    • 1 like
  2. The Reticulator Member

    unsk2 (View Comment):
    Eliminate the Administrative State all together, and then force Congress to do it’s job.

    I doubt there is a path to eliminating the administrative state. But maybe we can start by reforming it, making it smaller, and making Congress more responsible for it.

    I’m not going to watch 1.5 hours of talk on the topic, as that’s not an efficient way to spend time. But if one of the proposed reforms is to eliminate constituent services, I’m interested. It would go hand in hand with making Congressional staffs smaller.

    • #2
    • February 24, 2019, at 1:49 PM PST
    • 1 like
  3. Eugene Kriegsmann Member

    This was a fascinating conversation. There was so much of the inner workings that I really was unfamiliar with. Mr. Bergner has a wonderful ability to make the complex simple. He also made it pretty clear that the chance of getting any kind of change through the current Congress is about that of a snowball in hell. I suspect that a good deal of the culture that sustained earlier congresses in their desire to maintain their controls over their constitutionally mandated duties has been lost. We are left with people whose egos need constant stroking and whose campaign funds demand more attention than the “people’s business.”

    • #3
    • February 24, 2019, at 4:27 PM PST