Amid all the talk of most productive Congress in generations, political scientists have come up with a grade for the way the institution operated in 2010 — a “C-plus,” or just a slight improvement over 2009’s “C” grade.
The 40 academics surveyed by the center gave Congress a “B” for “focusing on the key issues facing the country” and a “B-minus” for protecting its institution from presidential encroachment, but said lawmakers did worse at finding compromise and keeping partisanship in check. The Senate scored a “C-minus” on finding compromise and consensus, and the House somehow scored a slightly better “C” — a surprise finding for a chamber that didn’t have a single open, free-flowing debate the entire year.
Worse than Congress, though, was the public, which the center’s academics gave a “D” grade for failing to follow or understand how Congress works.
“Our interest is not to dwell on past shortcomings, but to develop a sense of what areas are most in need of improvement, as well as what areas are generally handled well by Congress,” said former Rep. Lee Hamilton, director of the center.