Princeton political scientist to discuss congressional polarization Jan. 29


Frances E. Lee, professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University, will present a lecture titled

Frances E. Lee, professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University, will present a lecture titled “The Limits of Party: Congress and Lawmaking in a Polarized Era” at 4 p.m. Jan. 29 in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium. The lecture is sponsored by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy and the Department of Political Science.

IMAGE: Princeton University

Turn on the TV or scroll through social media and you’re bound to see references to gridlock in Congress as a result of disagreement between the Republican and Democratic parties.

Frances E. Lee, professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton, will visit Penn State Jan. 29 to discuss her work on congressional policy and partisan politics. Lee will present a lecture titled “The Limits of Party: Congress and Lawmaking in a Polarized Era” at 4 p.m. in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium.

The lecture is sponsored by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy and the Department of Political Science in the College of the Liberal Arts.

Lee is the author of several books on congressional politics, including “Can America Govern Itself?” and “Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Perpetual Campaign.”

She argues that party conflict leads to a more dominant role for congressional leaders and rank-and-file members voting more reliably with their own parties – but that these factors don’t necessarily lead to more effective law making capacity.

“Despite dramatic change in congressional processes, lawmaking remains a process of bipartisan accommodation,” Lee said. Even in today’s partisan Congress, most laws-including landmark laws-still pass with broad bipartisan support. Parties remain highly constrained by the veto points and super-majoritarian requirements in the U.S. constitutional structure, as well as by their own internal disagreements.”

Lee earned her doctorate from Vanderbilt University and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She holds a joint appointment in Princeton’s Department of Politics and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

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