During two decades representing suburban New Jersey in the House, Democrat Bill Pascrell Jr. has never been known as an outspoken advocate for addressing the institutional weaknesses of Congress. (He's focused instead on addressing blue-collar concerns about taxes and health care on the Ways and means Committee.) But he uncorked a fiery and very much worth reading op-ed in Sunday's Washington Post.
Headlined "Why is Congress so dumb?," it articulates a point of view that's not popular outside the Beltway but is widely shared by people who see the legislative branch as having shriveled in the past quarter-century: Congress would be able to stand up to presidents more forcefully, and repel special interests more consistently, if it spent more to cultivate its own internal experts.
He's hoping the new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress makes that a top recommendation, concluding: "After decades of disinvesting in itself, Congress has become captured by outside interests and partisans. Lawmakers should be guided by independent scholars, researchers and policy specialists. We must recognize our difficulties in comprehending an impossibly complex world."