Norman Ornstein is a long-time observer of Congress and politics. He is a contributing editor and columnist for National Journal and The Atlantic and is an election eve analyst for BBC News. He served as codirector of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project and participates in AEI's Election Watch series. He also served as a senior counselor to the Continuity of Government Commission. Mr. Ornstein led a working group of scholars and practitioners that helped shape the law, known as McCain-Feingold, that reformed the campaign financing system. He was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. His many books include The Permanent Campaign and Its Future (AEI Press, 2000); The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track, with Thomas E. Mann (Oxford University Press, 2006, named by the Washington Post one of the best books of 2006 and called by The Economist "a classic"); and, most recently, the New York Times bestseller,It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, also with Tom Mann, published in May 2012 by Basic Books. It was named as one of 2012's best books on pollitics by The New Yorker and one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post.
Contributing Editor and Columnist, National Journal and The Atlantic, 2013-present
Election Analyst, BBC News, 2012-present
Codirector, Project to Examine Alternatives to the Independent Counsel Statute, 1999-present
Member, Board of Contributors, USA Today, 1997-present
Founder and Director, Campaign Finance Reform Working Group, 1996-present
Columnist, "Congress Inside Out," Roll Call, 1993-2012
Senior Adviser, Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 1987-present
The overall number of retirements from the 113th Congress so far is average or a bit below average, although, of course, the retirements are getting more attention than usual because of the remarkable careers of George Miller, Henry Waxman, Carl Levin, and Dingell.
On the cusp of his 2014 State of the Union message, President Obama is not exactly floating on air. His fifth year, which started out with some promise of major legislative accomplishments came a cropper early, when the gun bill failed on—what else—a filibuster in the Senate.
Amid the coverage of the Christie controversy and the latest budget deal, it was easy to miss the news about last week’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the case of National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning. And yet the Canning case represents the biggest threat to presidential power in decades, and the stakes in the decision are extremely high.
The successful budget deal forged by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, and its wide margin of approval in the House, have had many observers suggesting the political system may have turned a corner in its dysfunction.
One of the most interesting recent political and policy developments is the involvement of Ron Unz in a major effort on behalf of a referendum to raise California’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2016.
So much has now been written about the filibuster that one might think there is nothing more to say. Wrong! I do have some observations, about the Senate leading up to this change, and about the Senate going forward, that I hope will plow new ground—or at least use different furrows.