Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Taubman Center

Congressional Forum Event: Toward Restoring the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Watch on Watson's YouTube Channel.

Senators are fond of calling the U.S. Senate “the world’s greatest deliberative body. Few observers would disagree that the Senate no longer earns such praise. In recent Congresses, the Senate has been plagued by gridlock growing out of extreme partisanship and political polarization.

The Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy and the Watson Institute for International and Public affairs at Brown University will host a three-hour program entitled “Toward restoring the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” to examine the gridlock and the rules, precedents, procedures, traditions, mores, history, traditions and behavior that have accelerated the downward spiral of this once revered body which James Madison described as “a necessary fence” which would protect “the people against their rulers.”

The forum will feature a brief opening keynote by Former United States Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND).

Taubman Interim Director, Professor Richard Arenberg (who worked in senior staff positions in the Senate for 34 years) will be joined by a bipartisan, and in some cases, nonpartisan panel of experts with many years of experience closely observing and/or working in the Senate. 

The panel will explore the roots of the apparent inability of recent Senates to legislate solutions to the nation’s greatest problems and discuss some of the potential reforms and other actions which could help move the body in the future back toward its historic role.

The panel will include Sarah Binder (Professor of Political Science, George Washington University and Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution), Larry Evans (Professor in the Department of Government, College of William and Mary), Bill Dauster (Chief Counsel, U.S. Senate Budget Committee), Alan Frumin (Senate Parliamentarian Emeritus), G. William Hoagland (Senior Vice President, Bipartisan Policy Center), Quentin James (President & Founder, The Collective PAC), Norman Ornstein (Emeritus Scholar, American Enterprise Institute), Keenan Austin Reed (Chair, Black Women’s Congressional Alliance), Molly Reynolds (Senior Fellow in Governance Studies, Brookings Institution), Donald Ritchie (Senate Historian Emeritus), Ira Shapiro (President, Ira Shapiro Global Strategies LLC), Pam Thiessen (Minority Staff Director of HSGAC), Michael Zamore (Chief of Staff to Senator Jeff Merkley).