Americans’ dissatisfaction with Congress, alas, is matched by ignorance about how the legislative branch of the government actually works. Constituents are grateful when their representative intervenes to help them solve a problem they’re having with, say, the Social Security Administration. They are likely to notice as well when a legislator “brings home the bacon” to his home district. They know precious little, however, about how a bill is conceived, revised, and passed.
In “Act of Congress,” Robert Kaiser, a staff member of the Washington Post for 50 years and the author of “So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government,” draws on special access to Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and other key players, to tell the story of the complex and consequential piece of legislation that regulated Wall Street and created a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Informative, incisive, and timely, “Act of Congress” provides essential lessons in civics about how business is done in Washington, D.C.