Book details

Congress in Context

By John Haskell, By Sara Grove, By Marian Currinder

About the Book

The U.S. Congress is by the far the least popular—and most misunderstood—branch of the federal government. Congress in Context de-mystifies the institution, giving students a comprehensive and practical understanding of Congress and the legislative process. This book takes a different approach to the study of Congress than other texts. Usually Congress is treated in isolation from the rest of the government. But the Framers of the Constitution explicitly intended for the branches of government to be interdependent. Congress in Context introduces readers to Congress's critical role in the context of this interdependent system. Using the metaphor of a board of directors, the authors explain the three key roles of Congress within the federal government—authorizing what government does, funding its activities, and supervising how it carries out the laws Congress passes—and shows students how Congress interacts with the rest of the government to exercise these powers.

The thoroughly expanded and revised second edition features brand-new chapters on Congress and the courts and Congress and interest groups. It also includes expanded coverage of Congress's relationship with the executive branch, campaign finance, and today's major budget issues. Grounded in the latest political science literature coupled with contemporary examples, Congress in Context offers students an informed yet accessible introduction to how the legislative branch carries out its duties.

About the Author

John Haskell is Senior Fellow at the Government Affairs Institute in Washington, D.C. He has written several articles on presidential and congressional politics, and is the author of Fundamentally Flawed, an examination of the presidential nomination process.


Praise for Congress in Context

"Congress in Context is thorough, well-written, and provides a unique insider's account of Congress's relationship with the broader political system. The authors combine classic congressional scholarship with contemporary policy issues to explain the nuts and bolts of how Congress functions as a policymaker within a complex system of shared powers. The structure of the text and the examples provide the groundwork for lively debates about why Congress struggles to be a productive and effective legislative body, and whether or not Congress is up to the monumental challenges it faces in the 21st century."
Alison Howard, Dominican University of California

"The book's framework of 'Congress as a board of directors' gets at what the institution does in an interesting and accessible way. The authors do a very nice job of spelling out the shared nature of power in our system, and of laying out the authorizing and appropriating functions of Congress—something that is often lost in how the institution works in other books."
David Dulio, Oakland University

Praise for Previous Editions