Is the Broken Branch on the Mend? An Early Report on the 110th Congress

The failure of Congress to fulfill its responsibilities as the first branch of government – to engage in responsible and deliberative lawmaking, to police the ethical behavior of its members, and to check and balance the executive – contributed to the demise of the Republican majority in last November’s midterm election.

The argument and evidence that Congress had become “the broken branch” was spelled out in a book with that title, by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein and published the summer before the 2006 election. How well is Congress performing under its new Democratic leadership? This is the first in a series of reports by Brookings’s Mending the Broken Branch Project that seeks to track and assess that performance.