January 29, 2008
Crafting Bipartisian Support for Legislation: A Case Study by a Washington Insider
Washington power broker John Hilley argues in The Challenge of Legislation that bipartisanship can succeed even under the toughest conditions. [JH]
Brookings Institution Press, 2007
Paper Text: 978-0-8157-3653-0, $22.95
Cloth Text: 978-0-8157-3654-7, $54.95
Description: In the mid-1990s, the outlook for bipartisanship looked equally bleak. The budget standoff between Democrats and Republicans forced the government to shut down, not once, but twice. Yet two years later, a Democratic White House and a Republican-controlled Congress passed the first balanced budget in a generation. This historic legislation not only brought an end to a period of massive federal budget deficits, but it also provided health insurance for five million children, created the HOPE scholarship for postsecondary education, enacted a child tax credit, increased funding for environmental programs, strengthened incentives to move people from welfare to work, and provided new incentives for saving and investing.
Hilley tells the inside story of this dramatic turnaround, drawing on his experience as the Clinton administration's chief liaison to Congress. He offers vivid portraits of the key players—including then Speaker Of the House Newt Gingrich, Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, and President Bill Clinton—as well as unique insight into the legislative process. Equally at home with the arcane rules of Congress and the realities of political combat, he explores the highly charged relationship between party leaders and their rank-and-file, the interplay between elected officials and their professional staff, the delicate art of partisan negotiations, and the role of uncertainty and surprise. The result is a compelling look at how public policy is made, rich in lessons for both policymakers and students of legislative politics.
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