When Congress Comes Calling

From: The Constitution Project

When Congress Comes Calling: A Study on the Principles, Practices, and Pragmatics of Legislative Inquiry

Morton Rosenberg

1. Introduction: Updating the Study of Legislative Inquiry and Adapting it to the Changed Climate of Congressional Oversight

[T]he proper office of a representative assembly is to watch and control the government; to throw the light of publicity on its acts to compel a full exposition and justification of all of them which any one considers questionable; to censure them if found condemnable, and, if the men who compose the government abuse their trust … to expel them, and either expressly or virtually appoint their successors. –John Stuart Mill

Valuing Bureaucracy: The Case for Professional Government

Paul Verkuil, the former Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States and a nationally recognized legal academician, has written a book highlighting the invaluable contributions and ever increasing significance of career civil servants.

The author makes a fundamental point regarding infrastructure. Yes, he argues, that the nation’s physical infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, are in need of repair but equally important is the need to rebuild the civil service infrastructure which delivers social security checks, Medicare, Medicaid, protection from terrorists and foreign enemies as well as clean air and clean water.

The Views of a Political Scientist on the Institutionalization of OIRA

Given the high priority accorded to controlling the size of the regulatory state by the Trump Administration the upcoming hearings on the nominee for the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is being accorded considerable attention by a range of interested stakeholders.

Although it is likely that the Senate hearings will focus on pending regulatory issues a more compelling line of inquiry is whether the new leader(s) of OIRA share a commonality with their predecessors concerning the need for the institutionalization of OIRA which  is dependent upon the exercise of neutral competence  as a basic pillar of its sustainability. If the aforementioned commonality exists it provides a basis for projecting the likely outcome of forthcoming decisions and a determination as to whether or not they will be in accord with former paradigms.