Congress Is Back

Scholars study its history to understand its problems

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In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson told the New Deal historian William Leuchtenburg, "I am not for denouncing Congress all the time. I am not like ... you writers who think of congressmen as archaic buffoons with tobacco drool running down their shirts."

For a long time, few historians of 20th-century America agreed with Johnson. For decades, Congress was a ghost in the historical imagination: usually absent in the best scholarship; when it did appear,