Exploring the Political Viewpoint of President Woodrow Wilson’s Political Beliefs Through Analysis of a Catchphrase

June 11, 2022 by Essay Writer

Discuss the statement: “Congress in its Committee Rooms is Congress at work”

Woodrow Wilson stated: “Congress in its Committee Rooms is Congress at work”, meaning that the majority of the work achieved in Congress can be attributed to smaller committees and not both chambers as a whole. Committee rooms are essentially Congress in microcosm for the party balance of committee rooms reflects the party balance of Congress as a whole. For example, if the Republicans had a majority in the House of Representatives, this majority would exist within the House’s committee rooms too.

It’s true to say that Standing and Select Committees command the substance of legislation put to Congress by holding hearings on the bill, gathering relevant information, finding witnesses all to ultimately make recommendations regarding in what form the bill should proceed, if it should proceed at all. Once a bill has been deliberated and amended in committee rooms, it is simply the job of Congress to vote on whether the bill in its current form should pass to the next stage of the legislative process. This means that Congress as a whole does not get the chance to debate and amend every bill that passes through.

Congress in its entirety does not debate the substance of every bill due to the impracticality of such a concept; there are 435 members in the House of Representatives alone, and to have every one of them participating in a debate would be impossible. No conclusion would ever be found, therefore legislative gridlock would occur. It makes much more sense to have the bulk of the deliberating take place in smaller committees (around 30-40 members in the House of Representatives committees and around 18 members in the Senate committees) as legislation can be agreed upon faster. Another benefit of this is that it gives the chance for more different types of legislation to be looked over and debated upon. While it’s true that in a typical two-year Congress term only 2%-4% of legislation makes it into law, this figure would be close to 0% if committees didn’t exist.

Another trademark of committees is that they are made up of experts in their field, meaning they have an informed and educated take on the legislation put in front of them. These experts became experts by thinking of what is best for their constituents. For example, a representative from Iowa would be an expert in the Agricultural Committee as this is an issue close to the hearts of his or her constituents. While being on such a committee is beneficial for the career of said expert, it begs the question that, do committees sacrifice the nationwide focus of issues by having experts work in committees to benefit only a small region of people and, by extent, benefit their political career and chances of re-election? Such a concept really serves to accentuate the decentralized nature of US politics and the legacy of federalism.

In conclusion, I agree with the statement that Congress in its Committee Rooms is Congress at work. These committees work on legislation far more than the entirety of Congress does. Committees really get the chance to examine bills, gather witnesses and information to assist their amendments, and ultimately present a cross-party agreed version of the proposed legislation. From there, all Congress has to do is accept or reject it. This role hardly grants the entirety of Congress much credit for their input in the legislation.

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