U.S. Politics Publications

Balanced Budget Proposal Tilts on Procedure

Nov 29, 2011
Part of the debt limit deal last August was a provision mandating that both Houses vote on an amendment to the Constitution to require a balanced budget each year. When the House Judiciary Committee reported a version that required a two-thirds vote to raise taxes, House Republicans reversed the committee in favor a simple majority vote to attract Democrats. In this article from Roll Call's Procedural Politics column, Don Wolfensberger comments that while the procedural acrobatics to make this change were complicated, they still left the amendment short of the two-thirds vote needed for constitutional amendments.

Harry Reid’s Nuclear Test Benefits President, for Now

Oct 27, 2011
The President and Congress may agree the message should be “jobs, jobs, jobs,” but how they actually translate that into workable legislative programs is another matter. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid even conducted a procedural nuclear test to block Senate Republicans from forcing an early and predictably embarrassing vote on the President’s jobs package.

The United States and China: Mutual Public Perceptions

Oct 19, 2011
Mutual perceptions between the United States and China are notoriously varied and changeable. This Kissinger Institute publication examines this broad topic through several lenses from distinguished guests from both China and the United States.

A Debate Worth Having on Emergency Offsets

Oct 14, 2011
Hopeful budget watchers predicted that Congress would have fairly smooth fiscal sailing now that statutory spending caps are in place. That obviously underestimates the ability of Members to whip up their own squalls.

A Better Way to Fund the Government on Time

Sep 20, 2011
Congress will not celebrate fiscal new year’s eve Sept. 30. That’s because: (a) it will not be in town; and (b) it will have nothing to celebrate.

Mixed Records of Success for Joint Committees

Sep 06, 2011
If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, is a duck-billed platypus a duck conceived by a bipartisan, joint committee of Congress? We may soon know, as the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction is mandated to report additional budget savings of at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade by Nov. 23.

Debt Deal Shows How Process Becomes Policy

Aug 02, 2011
If you got the impression during the debt limit imbroglio that our leaders were creatively trying to extricate themselves from a box of their own making, you’ve been cribbing from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s manual: Crises (fabricated or not) can advance worthy goals—even restoring fiscal sanity. It’s getting there that sometimes seems insane.

US Immigration Policy and Mexican/Central American Migration Flows: Then and Now

Aug 01, 2011
Young, low-skilled immigrants perform essential work, but the rapid growth of low-wage, limited English proficient (LEP), unauthorized populations in states with limited migration experience has contributed to increased anti-immigrant sentiment. Forty years into the current wave of regional migration, and after 25 years of increasingly serious enforcement efforts, this history also defines and limits the policy alternatives available, and highlights the challenges of managing regional flows.

US Immigration Policy Since 9/11: Understanding the Stalemate over Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Aug 01, 2011
This report reviews the recent history of US immigration legislation, including new enforcement mandates passed immediately after 9/11 and unsuccessful efforts to pass CIR bills during the 109th and 110th Congresses. This history, together with asymmetries in the political process that favor enforcement-oriented responses, stack the deck against legalization and visa reform. Any possibility of success was further hurt by the timing of the reform debate with respect to the national electoral calendar in 2006-07 and the economic downturn beginning in 2008.

Libya Motivates Members to Rally Together

Jul 19, 2011
When Hillary Clinton was told June 22 that House Republicans were scheduling two votes on Libya later that week, she reportedly asked, “Whose side are they on?” If that sounds reminiscent of a president telling other nations, “You’re either with us or against us,” welcome to the world of war rhetoric.