I was at a round table yesterday where the speaker stated their view on congress in the following fashion.

congress was not created to pass good laws.  congress was created to stop bad laws from becoming law

On the one hand, if you believe that the framers created the United States with the idea that states should reign supreme, then the notion that congress exists essentially as a road block to potential expansion of federal power makes perfect sense.  However, I would like to believe that congressmen care more about passing positive legislation than killing bills that they do not agree with.  Do individual congressmen attempt to kill bills that they don’t agree with?  Of course.  But when you look at the facts of how much legislation goes into congress each year and how much comes out, you get about 10,000 bills going in and around 400 coming out the other end of the funnel, a 4% success rate.

Despite all the outcry about the federal government’s encroachment on states rights, this seems to suggest that the best block on the expansion of federal power is congress itself.  When you start to get into the ins and outs of congressional committees and house rules, you find that passing a bill is a highly complicated and intricate process that dwarfs anything that schoolhouse rock ever taught us as kids.  However, it’s still a good basic summary of the process.

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