Eric Schickler and Frances E. Lee

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199559947
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics



The U.S. Congress is the most influential legislature in the world. This remains true despite the weakening of the legislative in comparison to the executives both in the U.S. and other countries. In Article I of the U.S. Constitution, Congress is stated as the centre of the American government. It has chief responsibility for lawmaking and is the most representative branch of the national government. Over time, Congress has not turned out to be the dominant centre of government, however it continues to stand as an autonomous and highly consequential institution in American politics. Composed of representatives and senators whose political power is separate from the executive and political parties, Congress is a site of independent legislative entrepreneurship, investigation of public concerns, deliberation on policy and administration, and decisive action. Because of the centrality of Congress in the U.S. government, several studies on it have emerged since the late nineteenth century. This volume examines the extensive and diverse literature on Congress, identifying areas of accomplishment and determining promising directions for future work. This book examines the different aspects of congressional politics. Beyond illustrating the current state of the literature on Congress, the book offers critical analysis of how each area of inquiry has progressed or failed to progress over time. The text identifies the major questions posed by each line of research and assess the answers that have been offered. The goal is to set the agenda for research on Congress in the next decade.

Keywords: U.S. Congress; Constitution; Congress; American government; lawmaking; politics; government; literature on congress; congressional politics

Article.  2788 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics

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