Center for Effective Lawmaking

Reforming Congress, A Conversation with Sunwater Institute

Reforming Congress, A Conversation with Sunwater Institute The Center for Effective Lawmaking’s Co-Directors, Professor Craig Volden and Professor Alan E. Wiseman, had the opportunity to engage in an in-depth conversation with Matthew Chervenak, Founder & President of the Sunwater Institute, about Congressional reform and what concerns and recommendations we can identify based on the research at the CEL. In a two-part video series, now available online, the dialogue touches on everything from what motivated the CEL Co-Directors to bring rigorous data analysis on lawmaking effectiveness to the field of political…

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Being an Effective Lawmaker from Day One: A Guide for New Members of Congress

Being an Effective Lawmaker from Day One: A Guide for New Members of Congress The CEL is grateful for the willingness of members of Congress to engage in public service at this crucial time. We congratulate the newly-elected members of the 117th Congress. In conjunction with the start of the new legislative session, we are excited to announce the release of our new and comprehensive New Member Guide.This guide offers our best advice for how new members can become effective lawmakers. We scoured all of the materials presented in previous new…

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WATCH: “What’s Next for Congress?” with Molly Ball

WATCH: "What's Next for Congress?" with Molly Ball The Center for Effective Lawmaking hosted a Virtual Batten Hour on November 9 featuring Molly Ball.Ball is the National Political Correspondent for TIME and a frequent television and radio commentator. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Pelosi, a biography of the first woman Speaker of the House. Prior to joining TIME, Ball covered U.S. politics for The Atlantic, Politico and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She has received numerous awards for her political coverage, including the Gerald R. Ford…

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WATCH: The Future of Congressional Reform with Rep. Derek Kilmer

WATCH: The Future of Congressional Reform with Rep. Derek Kilmer On November 12, 2020, the Center for Effective Lawmaking was honored to host Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA06) for a public conversation surrounding his work as the Chair of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. (For an analysis of how the Select Committee's work intersects with research from the Center for Effective Lawmaking, read our article here.) The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress Committee (“Select Committee”) was established by H.Res. 6 on January 4, 2019 and is…

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On the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress Recommendations

On the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress Recommendations The vision statement of the Center for Effective Lawmaking points toward a Congress “comprised of effective lawmakers” and featuring a “strong institutional capacity.”  It is in this light that we viewed the work of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress with great anticipation and enthusiasm.  We were pleased to meet with members of the Select Committee and committee staff in a variety of forums and to offer our suggestions to the committee as they formulated their recommendations and…

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Foxes v. Hedgehogs and Issues Specialization in Congress

Foxes vs. Hedgehogs: Issue Specialization and Effective Lawmaking in the U.S. Congress Members of Congress can specialize in particular policy areas or maintain a more general approach in the bills they sponsor. Is one approach more effective than the other? The impact of a Representative’s or Senator’s choice on this matter has, before now, been largely left to speculation and anecdote. But the Center for Effective Lawmaking has released new research indicating that the vast majority of lawmakers have overly general legislative agendas. This has powerful implications for effective lawmaking.The…

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Women’s Issues and Their Fates in Congress

Women's Issues and Their Fates in Congress It is no surprise to voters that bills addressing the classically considered “women’s issues” are more likely to be introduced by female members of Congress. Yet, bills on such issues are half as likely as other bills to be passed into law. Beyond that fact, CEL research has revealed a further surprising and disheartening finding. The likelihood of passage of “women’s issues” legislation drops in half yet again if the women’s issue bills are sponsored by women themselves. If men sponsor the legislation,…

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Elite Education and Legislative Behavior in the U.S. Congress

Elite Education and Legislative Behavior in the U.S. Congress The Center for Effective Lawmaking announces new research about the relationship between elite education on legislative behavior, particularly effective lawmaking, in the U.S. Congress.About a third of the U.S. Congress is comprised of legislators who attended elite colleges, universities, and law schools. We studied how legislative behaviors within this group have differed from those of other legislators between 1973 and 2014. Elite education is defined as having graduated from the most highly ranked colleges and universities, such as Stanford or Harvard, and…

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Watch: The Role of Experienced Congressional Staff

Watch: The Role of Experienced Congressional Staff in Effective Lawmaking On June 5, 2020, the Center for Effective Lawmaking hosted a discussion about the role and importance of experienced legislative staff on effective lawmaking. Mike Henry, Chief of Staff for Senator Tim Kaine, joined Center for Effective Lawmaking Co-Director, Professor Craig Volden, for a virtual conversation regarding life as a professional Congressional staffer.They spoke candidly about how experienced legislative staff can greatly impact a lawmaker’s ability to be effective. Members of Congress seek to allocate their scarce staff resources carefully,…

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Watch: Women in Legislature

Watch: Women in Legislature (A Community Conversation) On May 1, the Center for Effective Lawmaking, along with Batten Women in Policy, hosted a discussion about the role and importance of women in legislatures.The CEL has ground-breaking research finding that congresswomen tend to build coalitions more regularly than their male counterparts. This results in minority-party women being some of the highest scoring legislators when it comes to effectiveness. But, this principle does not apply equally to all congresswoman, nor for their proposals in some important policy areas.Watch the recording as Professor…

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