In this special edition of Open to Debate podcast, we are taking a moment to explore how debates really work in Congress, and to get an insider’s perspective on how it has been changing over time.
Trumpcare, or the American Health Care Act, provides us a timely opportunity to examine the quality of Congressional deliberation. Senate Republicans have been accused of writing the bill behind closed doors, with a plan to provide less than 20 hours of public debate – on legislation that will affect millions of Americans and 1/6 of the economy.
However, before it went to a vote, the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, got 25 days of debate – one of the longest periods of bill debate in Senate history.
Is the GOP really shrinking away from debate, or is this a reflection of how the process has always worked on Capitol Hill?
To enlighten and inform us on the state of debate in Congress today, our host John Donvan interviews one of our past debaters, former Oklahoma Congressman Mickey Edwards. Mr. Edwards directs a program at the Aspen Institute designed to foster bi-partisan thinking among elected officials. He is an authority on seeing ideas pulled apart out in the open and put back together again – by way of vibrant, engaging debate.
In this episode, he recalls instances of civility in American politics, when both Democrats and Republicans were more likely to engage in debate on Capitol Hill. How has Congressional debate changed over the past 40 years? And what are the paths to restoring open discourse in Washington?
Listen to the podcast, featuring Mickey Edwards and John Donvan:
John Donvan – Host and Moderator, Open to Debate