The Public Interest

Factions and incentives in Congress

Michael J. Malbin

Winter 1987

MORE THAN HALF of the recorded debates at the Constitutional Convention were about how to organize Congress and what powers to give it. Today, the organization of Congress continues to preoccupy its most frequent critics.  The institution, they say, is too much concerned with local interests, too fragmented internally, and too susceptible to interest group pressure. If you take the word “too” out of the last sentence, the description is largely correct. Unfortunately, it tells only part of the story. To assess Congress’s role and development fairly, we must first address some broader questions about the constitutional order.

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