As progress continues toward finalizing a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, the United States Congress is moving forward with legislation that will further define and assert its role in the negotiations. Some have suggested that partisanship is in play, while others believe that the process of checks and balances is operating as it should. To gain insight and historical context, we spoke with Congress expert Don Wolfensberger. That’s the focus of this edition of Wilson Center NOW

Donald R. Wolfensberger is a Wilson Center Senior Scholar and former director of the Center’s Congress Project. He is author of the book, Congress and the People: Deliberative Democracy on Trial (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000). Previously, he worked for 28 years as a staff member in the House of Representatives, beginning in 1969 as a legislative assistant to his own Congressman, Rep. John B. Anderson (R-Ill.). He joined the House Rules Committee staff as Anderson's subcommittee counsel in 1979, and subsequently served on the committee as subcommittee counsel to Rep. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) from 1981-88, and Rep. Lynn Martin (R-Ill.), from 1989-90.  In 1991 he was named Republican Staff Director of the Rules Committee by Ranking Minority Member Gerald B. Solomon (R-N.Y.), and in 1995 Solomon named him chief-of-staff of the Committee in the 104th Congress.  He is an expert on parliamentary rules and procedures and played a key role in developing House reform proposals for the Republican leadership over the years, culminating in their adoption as House rules when the GOP won majority control in 1995. He writes a twice-monthly column, “Procedural Politics,” for the popular Capitol Hill Newspaper, Roll Call.  He lectures frequently on Congress to student groups, foreign diplomats, and executive branch officials. 

John Milewski is the executive producer and managing editor of Wilson Center NOW and also serves as director of Wilson Center ON DEMAND digital programming. Previously he served as host and producer of Dialogue at the Wilson Center and Close Up on C-SPAN. He also teaches a course on politics and media for Penn State’s Washington Program.