A visiting scholar from the McCourtney Institute to discuss polarization in Congress on October 19


UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – As the future of the national debt hangs in the balance, the question of how Congress can break the deadlock and get things done is more relevant than ever. McCourtney Institute for Democracy visiting scholar Charlie Dent has spent 14 years in Congress and will offer his perspective at a 4 p.m. talk on Tuesday, October 19 at the Hintz Family Alumni Center.

Congressman Charlie Dent will be the McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s first visiting scholar this fall.

Dent, a Republican, retired from Congress in 2018 after representing the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania for seven terms. Prior to that, he served six years in the Pennsylvania Senate and eight years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He is now executive director and vice president of congressional programming at the Aspen Institute, political analyst on CNN and an affiliate of global law firm DLA Piper.

His talk will address what will happen to American democracy if Congress becomes too crippled by polarization, as well as some of the people and organizations who are striving to reinvent how Congress works. He will draw on his own congressional experience and his work leading bipartisan political education programs for lawmakers as part of the Aspen Institute’s Congressional Program.

Dent said bipartisan actions in Congress have waned and he hopes actions like COVID-19 stimulus packages and recent infrastructure talks can provide a plan for more work down the aisle in the future.

“There haven’t been a lot of big hits,” Dent said. “Things like tax reform on the right and health care on the left have happened along party line votes with little support on the other side.”

Dent’s talk will also discuss how the budget reconciliation process works and how it departs from congressional standard operating procedure. In recent years, reconciliation has been used to pass laws by a simple majority, rather than the 60-vote majority needed to pass laws without obstruction.

In-person and online participation is available for Dent’s October 19 conference. An in-person presence in Hintz will be set up to take into account physical distancing. Visit the McCourtney Institute for Democracy website for more information and to register.

Last updated on October 04, 2021


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