How Congress Works and Why You Should Care by Lee H. Hamilton

How Congress Works and Why You Should Care

byLee H. Hamilton

Paperback | February 26, 2004

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How Congress Works and Why You Should Care is a concise introduction to the functions and vital role of the U.S. Congress by eminent former Congressman Lee H. Hamilton. Drawing on 34 years as a U.S. Representative, Hamilton explains how Congress reflects the diversity of the American people, serves as a forum for finding consensus, and provides balance within the federal government. Addressing widespread public misperceptions, he outlines areas where Congress can work better and ways for citizens to become more engaged in public affairs through their representatives in Washington. How Congress Works and Why You Should Care is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the inner workings of Congress, and how all citizens can participate in its unique mission.

About The Author

Lee H. Hamilton was U.S. Representative from Indiana's Ninth District from 1965 to 1999. He served as Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Joint Economic Committee, and the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. He is now director of the Center on Congress at ...

Details & Specs

Title:How Congress Works and Why You Should CareFormat:PaperbackDimensions:168 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.51 inPublished:February 26, 2004Publisher:Indiana University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0253216958

ISBN - 13:9780253216953

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Table of Contents

Chapter One: The Role of Congress
Why Congress exists
Core principle: Sovereignty of the People
Core principle: Balancing powers in government
Congress and the President
Why federalism works
Key power: Passing the basic laws of the land
Key power: The power of the purse
Key power: Congress and foreign policy
Congress and individual liberties
The roots of our success


Chapter Two: The Impact of Congress
Congress and the fabric of our lives
Government's greatest endeavors
An ordinary day
Congress does more work than meets the eye
A balanced view of Congress
Members of Congress who had an impact


Chapter Three: How Congress Works
A complex institution
An evolving institution
The many roles of a member of Congress
Representing constituents
How a bill really becomes law
Why we need more politicians
Power in Congress
The House and the Senate
The awesome responsibility of voting
The frustrations and rewards of Congress


Chapter Four: Public Criticisms of Congress
"Members are a bunch of crooks."
"There's too much wasteful, pork-barrel spending by Congress."
"Legislators just bicker and never get anything done."
"You can't trust what members of Congress say."
"Congress almost seems designed to promote total gridlock."
"Members of Congress compromise too much."
"There's too much money in politics today."
"Members are out of touch with their constituents."
"Congress is run by lobbyists and special interests"
Conclusion


Chapter Five: Key Ways Congress Could Work Better
Declining civility
The importance of good process
Better White House/Congress consultation
True congressional oversight
Improving ethics enforcement
Thinking about the future
The money chase
Improving public understanding of Congress
Tackling the tough issues
Congress and the common good
Conclusion

Chapter Six: Civic Participation
A failure to communicate
Being more involved in the work of Congress
The cornerstones of active citizenship
Making your views known to Congress
Individuals who have made a difference
Can the people govern?
Strengthening representative democracy

Appendix: Communicating with Congress
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

"Americans cannot be faulted for having a deeply jaundiced view of their Congress, says Hamilton (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars); he ought to know, because he served as a Representative for Indiana from 1965 to 1999. But he argues that people can and should fix it rather than give up on it completely." -SciTech Book News, February 2010