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The State of Reform
Download Unite America’s free report
Download Unite America's free report analyzing the impact of four key political reforms.

Texas Republican Ted Cruz reading "Green Eggs and Ham" during a Senate filibuster in 2013.

TV coverage of the Senate may reduce its effectiveness

Televising every moment of the Senate's proceedings is a wonderful monument to government transparency, one that brings corruption-scrubbing sunshine to the self-proclaimed world's greatest deliberative body. Right?

Perhaps, but it's more complicated than that. Newly published research concludes gavel-to-gavel coverage of Congress has reduced substantive debate, heightened partisanship and increased the amount of time members spend on posturing and self-promotion.

The report is the second in recent days detailing what's underpinning the dysfunction of the Capitol, at a time when legislative branch weakness is widely viewed among the main threats to democracy. In the other, former members of Congress painted a dire picture of their former workplace, saying it is ill-equipped to rally even in emergencies such as the current coronavirus pandemic and economic collapse.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images

Total bipartisan rejection of Trump’s idea the election be postponed

President Trump took his crusade against voting by mail to a whole new level Thursday, suggesting for the first time that "delay" of the election is the best way to prevent his re-election from being stolen from him.

The idea was either castigated, dismissed as impossible or disregarded as a silly trial balloon diversion by senior members of Congress from both parties as well as legal scholars.

But it nonetheless intensified the president's efforts to sow doubt about the reliability of the November result — which, if he ends up contesting and refusing to concede defeat, could produce a constitutional crisis posing an unprecedented challenge to democracy.

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Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, here at Monday's Capitol service for the late Rep. John Lewis, will ultimately negotiate the fate of additional federal funding to smooth the election.

Anger, not panic, from advocates as Senate seeks no new election aid

There's not a dime for creating a safer and smoother election in the Senate Republican economic stimulus proposal — which has voting rights groups, democracy reform advocates and some election administrators professing outrage and frustration, but not panic just yet.

The roughly $1 trillion package, unveiled Monday and blessed by the Trump administration, is essentially the GOP's opening bid for negotiations with the Democratic House. It has voted for $3 trillion more in coronavirus recovery funds including $3.6 billion for states to make their November contest healthy, comprehensive and reliable despite the pandemic.

Securing significant aid for the states — mainly so they can accommodate a guaranteed surge in voting by mail — has become good-governance lobbyists' singular focus during the public health emergency. They remain cautiously optimistic the ultimate bipartisan deal this summer will include several hundred million beyond the $400 million they secured this spring, banking that the pleadings of election officials in many red states will outweigh President Trump's unfounded allegations about the fraudulent evils of mail voting.

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Sen. Roy Blunt (right) speaks with Sen. Lamar Alexander prior to the start of the Rules Committee hearing on election preparations.

Bipartisan accord in the Senate for more election cash, but how much?

A bipartisan consensus has become clear in Congress that states need more federal help, and quickly, or else their elections in November risk becoming dangerously unhealthy, inefficient and unreliable — mainly because they might not be ready to deliver and count the torrent of mail ballots requested by voters anxious about the coronavirus.

All the witnesses made essentially that point Wednesday in a Senate hearing. And they had a clearly receptive ear from Roy Blunt of Missouri, who convened the session as the Republican leadership's point person on election funding.

But Blunt did not reveal how much he was willing to include in the next pandemic economic relief bill, negotiations on which have gotten off to a scattershot start in Congress this week. Republicans have been fighting among themselves about much the economic rescue package should cost and which of President Trump's expensive ideas to include.

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