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CongressThe First Branch$
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Benjamin Ginsberg and Kathryn Wagner Hill

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300220537

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300220537.001.0001

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A Brief History of Congress: From First Branch to Second Fiddle

A Brief History of Congress: From First Branch to Second Fiddle

(p.37) 2 A Brief History of Congress: From First Branch to Second Fiddle

Benjamin Ginsberg

Kathryn Wagner Hill

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the history of the US Congress. It pays particular attention to issues of constituency, congressional organization, and the ways in which Congress and the executive have dealt with their constitutional invitation to struggle. Focusing on political changes outside Congress and institutional changes within Congress, the history of the legislative branch can be divided into six political eras. These are the Federalist and Jeffersonian eras, the Jacksonian era, the Civil War Congress, the Republican era, the “New Deal” and postwar period, and the contemporary period of congressional gridlock and presidential unilateralism. During each of these periods, the chapter highlights examples of congressional successes and achievements, but the overall picture is one of institutional retrocession.

Keywords:   US Congress, constituency, congressional organization, executive branch, political changes, institutional changes, legislative branch, presidential unilateralism, institutional retrocession

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