The Real Reason the Senate Can't Get Anything Done

Historian Richard Baker and former congressional correspondent Neil MacNeil explore the history of the Senate.

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Is the filibuster necessary?

I think the House, whether its members admit it or not, kind of relies on the Senate to slow down bad legislation. Traditionally, ever since the 18th century, House members, under certain circumstances, have hoped that what they had to vote for, because of its popularity, would be buried when it got over to the Senate. That's typical of any bicameral legislative body. So, if you move to a majoritarian Senate, then that's all out the window.

Why should current senators read your book?

This is the first time in more than 100 years that there has been a history of the Senate in about 400 pages. So, first of all, it's readable. And it is written from the perspective of today's concerns. I wrote the prologue from the point of view of a brand new senator. But that could be just an American citizen trying to figure out what the heck this institution is all about.

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