Most Americans agree that Congress is not functioning nearly as well as it should. Only about a third of us have a favorable view of Congress.
We also understand that an effective Congress is crucial to realizing the full promise of American self-government. The Framers established Congress’ central roles in Article One of the Constitution, reflecting their conviction that the legislative branch is even more crucial in representative government than the president (Article Two) and the courts (Article Three).
Congress is also where growing partisan rancor and dysfunction is often most visible. For example, research analyzing the more than 13 million roll call votes cast since the 1st Congress in 1789 reveals that partisan polarization is greater in the Congress today than at any previous time in our more than 230 years under the Constitution. In a system of government intentionally designed by the Founders to prevent any one party from imposing its will on everyone else, increasingly partisan approaches to lawmaking translate into a stalemate and an inability to address the crucial challenges of our day.