WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Why is it that every 20 years or so, the electorate engages in a populist movement aimed at overhauling Congress, and what impact does this have on how well Congress functions? What lessons did the Newt Gingrich Republicans of the 104th Congress learn from the resurgent Democrats of the 94th Congress, and what will the new majority of the current 114th Congress learn from their predecessors? Former Members of Congress and renowned Congressional experts will address these and other timely questions during a one-day symposium on Capitol Hill.
The University of Maryland's College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress will present "Conflict, Order and Reform in the House" on Thursday, September 17 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium in Washington, D.C. Former Members of Congress, former staff members, media, and academic experts, among others, will discuss three central topics during this celebration of Constitution Day: Congressional Reform in the 1970s; Congressional Reform and the Republican Resurgence; and Lessons Learned: The Future of Congressional Reform. Luncheon keynote speaker Mark Shields of PBS NewsHour will discuss the 94th Congress and its impact.
The symposium will also help promote civic literacy, explore Congress' record and the political change it helped initiate, examine the challenges of governing, and present findings in a post-symposium report to the American people.
The event is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
About the 94th, 104th and 114th Congresses
Many scholars have pointed to the "wave" election of 1974 as a decisive point in American politics. More than 90 new men and women were elected to the 94th Congress, the vast majority of them Democrats. They made dramatic changes to the rules that governed their Caucus and the House itself—for example, by breaking the seniority system that gave Southern Democrats a stranglehold on House leadership and committee chairmanships.
Twenty years later, Republicans campaigned on a national platform opposing the "tax and spend" Clinton Administration, leading to the historic GOP takeover in 1994 of the 104th Congress, and House Speaker Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America." It was the first time since 1954 that Republicans took control of both the House and the Senate. And 20 years after that, yet another electoral movement swept the Republicans back in charge of both the House and the Senate in the 114th Congress.
Panelists and Speakers
Among the symposium panelists are: Former Members Dave Obey (D-WI) and Mickey Edwards (R-OK); Don Wolfensberger, senior scholar, Congress Project, Wilson Center; Frances Lee, professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland; Norm Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute; William R. Pitts, former chief of staff to Republican Leader Bob Michel; Bill Cable, former senior staff on various House committees; and Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs, Princeton University. Panel moderators include: former House Parliamentarian Charles Johnson; former Congressman Ron Sarasin (R-CT); and John A. Lawrence, visiting professor, University of California (Washington Campus) and former chief of staff to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The symposium is free and open to the public. For registration and more information, visit: go.umd.edu/orderinthehousedc. There will also be social media discussion via Twitter #OrderintheHouseDC as well as on the Order in the House Facebook page during the symposium.
"This symposium not only provides us the opportunity to reexamine a very significant milestone in American history, but it affords us the chance to explore solutions for how Members of Congress can govern in a more effective manner in order for them to better fulfill their roles as representatives of the people," said Stella Rouse, associate professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland and director of its Center for American Politics and Citizenship. "The 2016 elections are just around the corner, and a number of challenges face the next president and Congress. Therefore, the symposium will be a great forum for meaningful debate and discussion about how to improve governance. As a result of these discussions, we also hope to provide Congress and the American people with a significant report at the conclusion of the symposium."
"One of the major goals of our non-profit organization is to shine the spotlight on representative democracy, with all its challenges and all its benefits," said Pete Weichlein, CEO of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress. "We think that our Former Members—especially those who lived through these significant times—will help not only provide a very knowledgeable analysis of the past 40 years, but offer some real insight regarding the state of our democracy."
SOURCE U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress