Lee Hamilton

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

Recent Stories

Column: Government as an innovator? You bet!

Five years ago, the federal government spent $169 billion to fund basic research and development. This fiscal year, it’s down to $134 billion.

Column: The time has come to fix the government

In 1965, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Wilbur Mills, brought legislation establishing Medicare and Medicaid to the floor of the U.S. House. That was my first year in Congress, and I remember vividly the moment when Mills came to the Democratic caucus to explain his plans.

Repairs to process the key to getting Congress back on track

These are hard times for Congress. Its approval ratings have seen a bump from their historic lows of a few months ago, but it’s a small one. Our representative democracy’s keystone political institution is widely derided as ineffective, unproductive, irrelevant, and sadly out of touch.

Where Congress falls short ... and where it doesn’t

At a public gathering the other day, someone asked me how I’d sum up my views on Congress. It was a good question, because it forced me to step back from worrying about the current politics of Capitol Hill and take a longer view.

Column: There's an alternative to an imperial presidency

In his State of the Union speech to Congress last month, President Obama drew widespread attention for pledging to use his executive authority to advance his priorities. He insisted he intends to act with or without Congress, and listed well over a dozen actions he plans to take by executive order. “Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families,” he said, “that’s what I’m going to do.”

Balancing liberty and security is a never-ending challenge

Every few days, we learn yet one more way in which government’s expanded surveillance powers intrude upon our privacy and civil liberties.

Column: Hold the congratulations for Congress

Now that Congress has its immense, $1.1 trillion bipartisan funding bill in hand, Capitol Hill is breathing easier. They ended the specter of a government shutdown for the moment, and funded the federal budget for most of the year. The media has been commending Congress for finally doing its job.

Column: Trust ... but definitely verify

Of all the numbers thrown at us over the course of last year, one stands out for me. I hope we can avoid repeating it this year.

Modicum of action not enough to right ship for Congress

Congress is winding down its historically unproductive session with a small flurry of activity. It’s a welcome change, but so long overdue that it can’t possibly make up for what should have been accomplished on Capitol Hill this year.

Column: Why can’t Congress aim higher?

Congressional budget negotiators are moving to meet a Dec. 13 deadline to produce, well, something. For weeks, we’ve been told to keep expectations low. There’ll be no “grand bargain,” negotiators say. Commentators believe that even the narrowest agreement will be a signal achievement. So here’s my question: Doesn’t that seem like an awfully low bar to you?

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