The United State Federal legislature consists of a House of Representatives, where each state is represented in proportion to its population and each overseas territory plus the District of Columbia have one representative a piece in an observer status, and the Senate, where each state is represented by two Senators who are elected on one of three six year cycles. The Constitutional duties of each house can be found in the Article One
Currently, the 112th Congress is "working" toward supporting the military in Afghanistan, balancing the Federal Budget, providing healthcare reform, and circlejerking on the electoral muffin.
The Senate is owned, just barely, by the Democrats. The House, quite substantially, is owned by the Republicans. Historically, Americans like divided government, Ronald Reagan dealt with a Democrat controlled House and he's widely regarded as likeable.
If you don't already know (and shame on you), you can use these links to find our Congresscritters and discover what shenanigans they're getting up to in your name:
Current Leaders and Persons of Interest!
Joe Biden (D) The Vice President (nominal head of the Senate, but only acts when there's a 50/50 split)
Harry Reid (D-NV) Senate Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Senate Minority Leader
John Kerry (D-MA) Chairman of Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
John McCain (R-AZ) Sad Grandpa, Ranking Member of Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
John Boehner (R-OH) Speaker of the House
Eric Cantor (R-VA) House Majority Leader
Paul Ryan (R-WI) Chair of Budget Committee and author of what I'll call the "Fuck the Poor" Budget
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) House Minority Leader
There are others, but I'm tired, so let's move on.
Currently, public opinion of Congress is polling below communism and just above pedophiles and breaking even with Jim Belushi. Gridlock has become brinksmanship while bipartisanship and compromised were smothered in their cradles by the rise of the far right and the massive polarization of American politics over the last thirty years (thank you, Barry Goldwater
and the Southern Strategy
). We shuffle from shutdown to shutdown, from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis as the Republican party looks for any opportunity to win elections and the Democrats scrambling to return fire while actually governing the country takes a back seat.
This has led to an increase in Presidential power, which I would argue is a dangerous precedent.
But what can be done?
Things this Thread is For:
Substantive discussion of the problems/issues of the US Congress
Real, doable ideas to solve these problems
Honest discourse, neither party is perfect here even though the Republicans are the biggest part of the problem.
Note: Getting rid of the Federal System already has several threads, it's not going to happen anytime soon in Real Life, so let's try to stick to things that could actually be done.