As President Trump prepares for his 2018 State of the Union Address, Congress may be headed for what could be the second government shutdown of the new year. How did we reach this state of partisan gridlock, and how should the legislative process work in a functioning Congress? These questions and more are answered in the following Brookings Press books on Congress and the presidency.
The legislative process can be confusing to anyone as each chamber of Congress has its own specialized functions, procedures, and rules. The authors of “Inside Congress” provide a pocket guide that explains the roles and responsibilities of the House and Senate, and how Congress really works.
At a time when it seems that the filibuster is being used to obstruct all but the most benign bills, Molly Reynolds sheds some light on this controversial practice. As she points out in “Exceptions to the Rule,” there actually are special rules that enable the Senate to act despite the filibuster—sometimes.
Given the current political climate it’s easy to assume that Congress is more hopelessly dysfunctional than ever before, but throughout its history Congress has faced similar periods of partisan conflict. In “Is Congress Broken?” congressional experts offer practical reforms that would aid Congress in fulfilling its functions of representation, legislation, and oversight.
When Congress cannot pass laws or a budget, what is the president to do? In Daniel Gitterman’s “Calling the Shots” he explains how the president can use executive orders and memoranda to direct federal agencies and enforce rules, thus managing the federal bureaucracy without violating the separation of powers.