Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Richard Arenberg

Visiting Lecturer in Political Science


Richard Arenberg has significant experience in intelligence matters, Congressional history, procedure, rules and protocol, and the role and impact of Congress on public policy. Arenberg teaches a number of courses related to Congressional politics and policy through Brown’s public policy program and the political science department.

Arenberg spent more than thirty-four years on Capitol Hill in senior staff positions with Majority Leader Senator George Mitchell and Senators Carl Levin and Paul Tsongas. He served on the Senate Iran-contra Committee and helped Senators Mitchell and William Cohen write Men of Zeal, which analyzed those hearings.

Arenberg co-authored Defending the Filibuster: Soul of the Senate (Indiana University Press, 2012), which was named “book of the year/political science” by Forewords Reviews in 2012. A revised and updated edition of the book was published in 2014. The authors were awarded a Congressional research award by the Dirksen Congressional Center in 2010. Arenberg frequently writes opinion pieces for national media outlets including the New York Times, the Washington PostConstitution DailyPoliticoRoll Call, and the Hill.

Arenberg has also taught at Northeastern and Suffolk Universities. He serves on the board of directors of Social Security Works and the board of directors of Social Security Works Education Fund, and a senior Congressional fellow at the Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership. Richard A. Arenberg: Oral History Interviews was published by the Senate Historical Office in 2011 and can be found on the US Senate website.


Richard Arenberg is currently working on two book projects: the roots and history of ideological and partisan polarization in the US Senate; and a biography of a US senator.

His other research includes the application and abuse of Senate rules particularly the filibuster, budget reconciliation, “filling the amendment tree,” use of Rule XIV to circumvent the committee system and recent stresses to the past bipartisanship of the appropriations process, the budget process and earmarks.


POLS 1822C Congress

PLCY 1701H Congressional Leadership, Parties and Public Policy

POLS 1090 Polarized Politics


Defending the Filibuster: The Soul of the Senate (revised and updated edition), co-authored with Robert B. Dove, Indiana University Press, 2014.

Defending the Filibuster: The Soul of the Senate, co-authored with Robert B. Dove, Indiana University Press, 2012.

Talks & Media

“Stand Up and Change the Rule,” The Hill, December 11, 2014.

Richard A. Arenberg: Nuclear Option May Come Back to Haunt Democrats.” Providence Journal, December 1, 2014.

Republicans Have the Senate, Now What Happens to the Filibuster?” Roll Call, November 19, 2014.

The Nuclear Option: Does Where You Stand Depend on Where You Sit?” The Conversation US, November 14, 2014.

Would a New Senate Majority Abuse the Budget Reconciliation Process?” Constitution Daily, November 3, 2014.

Should Seats on the Supreme Court Be Left to the President’s Party Alone?” Constitution Daily, October 8, 2014.

Senate Filibuster Reform Would Benefit Both Parties, Whether in Power Now or Later.” Washington Post, May 3, 2014.

One Man’s Filibuster is Another Man’s Craven Politics.” Providence Journal, March 18, 2014.

A Tied Senate Could End the Filibuster, Once and For All,” Washington Post - The Monkey Cage, February 11, 2014.

Unintended Consequences,” The Hill, February 7, 2014.

Examining the Nuclear Fallout from the Senate’s Filibuster Vote,” The National Constitution Center, November 26, 2013.

These ‘Reforms’ Are a Huge Mistake,” New York Times, November 22, 2013.

Senate ‘Nuclear Option’ No Option,” Politico, November 12, 2013.

Save the Filibuster!” Politico, August 20, 2013.

In Defense of the Filibuster,” The National Constitution Center, July 29, 2013.

The Line the Senate Should Never Cross,”  Washington Post, July 12, 2013.

Richard Arenberg Comments on Wednesday’s Senate Floor Theatrics,” The Monkey Cage, May 23, 2013.

Comments on Nuclear Devastation,” The Monkey Cage, May 20, 2013.

Guns and the Filibuster,” The Hill  May 13, 2013.

Richard Arenberg Defends the Filibuster,” The Monkey Cage, March 11, 2013.

Filibustering the Filibuster,” Politico  January 3, 2013.

How Should Congress Approach Filibuster Reform?” Indiana University Press, January 2, 2013.

Finesse Needed for Filibuster Reform,” Portland Press Herald, December 10, 2012.

The Wrong Way to Make the Right Changes,” New York Times, December 2, 2012.

Filibuster Reform: Avoid the ‘Nuclear Option,’ ” Washington Post, November 14, 2012.

An Effective Senate Needs Filibusters,” Boston Globe, June 13, 2012.

Getting Judges Confirmed,” New York Times, March 3, 2012.

Don’t Rewire Filibuster Rules,” The Hill, January 24, 2012.

Senate Filibuster is Not the Problem,” Bangor Daily News December 16, 2011.