Miller Center

Congress and Policy Making in the 21st Century

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The Miller Center is a nonpartisan institute that seeks to provide critical insights for the nation’s governance challenges.

Jeffery Jenkins, Eric M. Patashnik
June 3, 2013
10:25AM - 4:15PM (EDT)

Eric M. Patashnik
Eric M. Patashnik

In recent years the U.S. Congress has been called broken, dysfunctional, and weak, yet its importance as policy-maker remains unchallenged. The role of Congress in the policy-making process has received surprisingly little attention in recent years. Most political science research on Congress focuses on its internal organization and distribution of power, while the public policy literature focuses on the role of presidents, interest groups, and the bureaucracy. What has been Congress's distinctive impact on government's role in key areas such as energy, health care, immigration, and monetary policy?  How have congressional elections and constituency pressures shaped the legislative agenda?  How has Congress responded to major events such as the Great Recession and secular trends such as growing income inequality and demographic change? In an era of partisan polarization, does Congress possess the collective capacity to contribute to effective problem solving?

Co-hosted by Jeff Jenkins, Professor of Politics and Miller Center Faculty Associate, and Eric Patashnik, Professor of Public Policy and Politics at the Batten School, this academic conference brings together leading scholars who will seek to shed new light on how Congress works--and what difference Congress makes for public policy outcomes.

This conference is co-sponsored by the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.  All sessions are closed to the general public, but proceedings will be webcast live and archived at

Click here for full conference video.

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