Our Dysfunctional Senate

The Senate's effectiveness is plagued by antiquated rules, fundraising pressures, ideological aides and an omnipresent media. The New Yorker says a once-great body is crumbling.

The Senate's effectiveness is plagued by antiquated rules, fundraising pressures, ideological aides and an omnipresent media. The New Yorker says a once-great body is crumbling: "The Senate is often referred to as 'the world’s greatest deliberative body.' Jeff Merkley, a freshman Democrat from Oregon, said, 'That is a phrase that I wince each time I hear it, because the amount of real deliberation, in terms of exchange of ideas, is so limited.' Merkley could remember witnessing only one moment of floor debate between a Republican and a Democrat. 'The memory I took with me was: Wow, that’s unusual—there’s a conversation occurring in which they’re making point and counterpoint and challenging each other. And yet nobody else was in the chamber.'"

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