The American Congress

A Reference Handbook

by Sara L. Hagedorn and Michael C. LeMay


In a typical session (a two-year period), Congress deals with more than 10,000 bills and resolutions.

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Cover image for The American Congress

June 2019


Pages 385
Volumes 1
Size 6x9
Topics Current Events and Issues/Politics and Government
  Politics, Law, and Government/General

This volume thoroughly examines the operations and politics of the U.S. Congress. It guides readers to their own assessment of congressional politics and provides them with the basis for future reading and study of the subject.

The American Congress: A Reference Handbook covers Congress from its inception to the present day, discussing the constitutional functions of Congress and how they have evolved over time. It presents a detailed discussion of 15 problems with which Congress copes, some associated concerns with those problems, and how they might be resolved.

The book opens with a brief history of Congress and how it has changed over time. It discusses a series of problems and concerns, and proposed solutions to those problems. It also comprises nine original essays by other scholars and persons involved in congressional politics as well as profiles of the major organizations and actors involved. Data and documents and a detailed chronology of Congress from 1789 to 2018 allow readers to situate significant legislation within the history of Congress, while an annotated list of sources—the major books and scholarly journals concerned with Congress in addition to a number of feature-length films and videos—provide readers with vetted resources for further study.


  • Presents the major functions of Congress and how they have evolved
  • Discusses proposed solutions to more than a dozen major problems facing Congress and enables readers to judge for themselves whether or not such solutions are likely to work or may have unforeseen consequences
  • Synthesizes a comprehensive body of scholarly discussion on Congress, providing readers with a foundation for additional reading and research
  • Explains why hyper-partisan politics, also known as "tribalism," has developed in Congress and why it leads to a stalemate in lawmaking
  • Provides readers with an understanding of the checks and balances system, and why Congress often fails to exercise those powers
Series Description

Contemporary World Issues

This award-winning series offers comprehensive, one-volume reference handbooks on important topics related to health, education, the environment, and social and ethical issues.

24-hour cable news. Millions of Internet sites. Information overload. How can we sort through the information? Assess the analyses? Trust the sources?

A world of questions demands a library of answers. Contemporary World Issues covers the controversial topics that students, readers, and citizens want to read about, write about, and know more about.


  • Subject coverage spans six main categories:
  • Criminal Justice
  • Environment
  • Gender and Ethnicity
  • Politics, Law, and Government
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine
  • Society
  • Each volume offers a rich array of resources:
  • A background and history essay that provides essential context and grounding for further study
  • A balanced summary of ongoing controversies and proposed solutions that show numerous paths for further research on pressing, contemporary questions
  • A forum of authoritative perspective essays by experts, offering a broad spectrum of arguments on the issues
  • Carefully selected annotated documents, tables, and graphs that supports statistical literacy and investigation of primary sources
  • A chronology of events, legislation, and movements that place events in sequence and draw connections between them
  • Annotated lists of print, Web, and multimedia resources that power the next steps for in-depth research
  • Profiles of key players and organizations
  • A glossary of key terms
Author Info

Sara L. Hagedorn, PhD, is assistant professor of political science at the University of Colorado–Colorado Springs. She served as a congressional staffer to several congressional members. She is author of a number of journal articles and has presented papers on Congress at numerous professional conferences.

Michael C. LeMay, PhD, is professor emeritus of political science at California State University–San Bernardino with 35 years experience teaching at the university level. He is author of more than two dozen academic books, including several from Praeger on U.S. immigration and many from ABC-CLIO: Religious Freedom in America, Global Pandemic Threats, Illegal Immigration, 1ed, 2ed, Doctors at the Borders, Transforming America, and others. His book The American Political Party System was selected by Choice as a 2017 Outstanding Academic Title.



"Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty."Choice

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