Wisconsin Public Radio

Congress Is Broken, Rep. Gallagher Says

Republican from state’s 8th district writes Atlantic story saying Congress too dominated by President and parties.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Nov 17th, 2018 02:12 pm
Mike Gallagher. Photo by Patty Murray/WPR.

Mike Gallagher. Photo by Patty Murray/WPR.

U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher says Congress needs to change.

The Republican representative for Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District, which covers the northeastern part of the state, wrote that — and more — in a piece in The Atlantic, titled “How to Salvage Congress.

The first paragraph reads:

“If you are among the 11 percent of Americans who believe that everything in Congress is going swimmingly, then save some time and stop reading right now. (But first, please share whatever experimental drugs you are on.) But if you are among the 87 percent of people who are concerned about what is going on in Congress, then I have an important message for you: It’s much worse than you think.”

In an interview Friday with Wisconsin Public Radio, Gallagher said Congress has ceded too much authority to the executive branch and to party leadership.

In a series of decisions dating back to the 1970s, he said the White House and party leadership have taken over the power to appoint the chairs of congressional committees.

He outlined a series of proposals for Congress to regain its influence including having members of congressional committees choose their own chairs; changing the congressional calendar to make members work five days a week in Washington instead of flying back every two or three days to their districts; and simplifying the committee structure so issues do not overlap.

“We need to end the jurisdictional ‘Game of Thrones’ by simplifying the committee structure,” Gallagher wrote in the piece. “I propose reducing the total number of committees to better correspond with the number of major executive-branch departments and agencies.”

Gallagher said he wrote the piece long before the November election, which he won by a large margin.

“My hope and my intent with the piece was not to criticize, but to offer constructive proposals for the 116th Congress, which is starting in January and can work better and learn from the mistakes of the past,” Gallagher told WPR.

Gallagher will begin his second term in office in January. He won November’s mid-term election with nearly 64 percent of the vote over his Democratic opponent Beau Liegeois who received just over 36 percent of the vote.

Unlike his first term in Congress, Gallagher will now be among the House’s minority party, a change that he worries could lead to gridlock.

“I worry that some of my Democratic colleagues will just be motivated by reflexive opposition to the White House and then the White House in turn will respond; and we’ll just get two years of people throwing bombs at each other on Fox News and MSNBC,” Gallagher said.

Listen to the WPR report here.

Rep. Mike Gallagher: Congress Is Broken was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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