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Want to learn about Senate procedure tomorrow?

One of my longstanding themes is that an enormous amount of American public policy is decided by the rules, quirks and composition of the Senate. But though a lot of people understand politics and a fair number of people understand policy, very few people understand congressional procedure. Those people know, however, that the best guidebooks tend to come from the Congressional Research Office. Take this one (pdf) on the budget reconciliation process, or this one (also pdf) on the filibuster.

The problem is that the Congressional Research Service doesn't release its reports publicly. They go to members of Congress, and have to then be acquired by members of the public. There's even an organization, Open CRS, that attempts to do this methodically. But in a welcome move, CRS is throwing open the doors on Friday (that is, tomorrow) morning and holding a seminar on Senate procedure. The event is co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden and Bob Bennett, the Senate Press Secretaries Association and the Regional Reporters Association, and bloggers, members of the media and other interested parties can attend by rsvp'ing to Jennifer_Hoelzer@wyden.senate.gov.

Why am I promoting this? Well, I think it's important for the media to dive into Senate procedure, but beyond that, I'm glad to see CRS, an extraordinary organization that produces incredibly high-quality research, opening its expertise to a wider audience. That's to be encouraged.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 24, 2010; 10:51 AM ET
Categories:  Congress  
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Comments

Ezra, thanks for providing those two links. Reading the CRS report on filibusters confirmed a number of things it took me the past 3-4 years to learn piecemeal, and I couldn't help thinking that it would have been nice if this had been easily available all along.

I'm looking forward to reading the CRS report about budget reconciliation, since my knowledge of that topic is about where my understanding of the filibuster was a few years back.

Posted by: rt42 | June 24, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I can't tell you how many times OpenCRS saved me during grad school. Best background reading ever. I recommend everyone plug them into your RSS feeds. Thanks for promoting them, Ezra.

Posted by: hb21 | June 24, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein,

Your statement that “CRS is throwing open the doors on Friday (that is, tomorrow) morning and holding a seminar on Senate procedure” is inaccurate.

By statute, the Congressional Research Service works exclusively for the United States Congress. This program and all of our products are prepared for committees and members of Congress. We are conducting this program at Congress’s request and it was Congress’s decision to open this program to a wider audience.

Janine D’Addario
Coordinator, Office of Communications
Congressional Research Service

Posted by: janinedaddario | June 25, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

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