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Categorized | Voices and Views

What it looks like when Congress does its job

By Lee H. Hamilton

If you’ve ever wondered what members of Congress do to earn their keep, the current health-care debate on Capitol Hill should give you a good idea. This is what it looks like when Congress does its job.

The national debate over every aspect of health care reform is heated and intense, and in the midst of it, the 535 members of Congress have to sort out what to do. They’re listening daily to lobbyists and their constituents, gauging the merits of different proposals, and trying to see clearly through all the rhetoric coming at them from every side.

Plenty of Americans think this process is too complex. Yet I would argue that the congressional debate has been healthy. Every side has had a chance to be heard, every conceivable interest has been represented, and members of Congress have had to look at the health-care system from multiple points of view. We have a Congress precisely in order to pursue this “dialogue of democracy” and to produce, in the end, an ambitious piece of legislation that can be accepted among a broad cross-section of Americans.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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