A new design for the U.S. Congress

For their final class project, the students in my U.S. Congress course were given the opportunity to propose a revision to the way that Congress is organized. We spent the term examining the strengths and weaknesses of Congress as an institution and they had some very interesting ideas for how to improve our legislative branch:

  • Extend House terms to three years and limit representatives to three consecutive terms. They can stand for a fourth term only after they sit one term out to “re-connect” with their constituents.
  • Increase the size of the House to 500 members and make it a proportional representation election system (instead of the current winner-take-all, single-member-district system).
  • Increase the Senate to 150 members, 3 from each state. All three are appointed by the state legislatures: 1 senator from each of the two most  popular political parties in the state and a final senator that can be appointed at the legislature’s discretion. All senators must also have previous experience in public office.
  • The two houses of Congress have some influence in determining the rules of debate for the other (a check on each other).

There were a number of other interesting ideas, but these were some of the most drastic changes that they recommended. I commend my intrepid students for their creative proposals.

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