Congress’ approval ratings over the past decade have been at their lowest in polling history. But when people say the legislative branch is “broken” and can’t get anything done, they are often imagining a “Schoolhouse Rock” model of legislation, with a friendly bill waiting to become a law. A series of two live events, in partnership with the New York Public Library and The Washington Post, will show how that legislative model no longer reflects the actual, radically altered mechanics of Congress.

At “Irregular Order: How Congress Really Works” — to be held on Nov. 13 at the library’s main branch in Manhattan and on Nov. 19 at the Bronx Library Center — Washington insiders will join journalists from ProPublica and The Washington Post to explore the changing faces and shifting inner workings of Congress. Learn how a tiny circle of congressional leaders control important bills, why legislative policy expertise among congressional staff has declined and the new archetypes for today’s lawmakers.

Speakers will also share tangible advice on how constituents can effectively get their representatives to hear their concerns and take action, based on their experience from the halls of Capitol Hill.


  • Lindsey Cormack, Stevens Institute of Technology assistant professor of political science
  • Paul Kane, Washington Post senior congressional correspondent
  • James Wallner, R Street senior fellow, former congressional staffer
  • Derek Willis, ProPublica news applications developer
  • Stephanie L. Young, When We All Vote communications director, former Congressional Black Caucus staffer

Tuesday, Nov. 13, 6:30 p.m.

New York Public Library — Main Branch
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Celeste Auditorium
476 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10018
RSVP here

Monday, Nov. 19, 6:30 p.m.

Bronx Library Center, Auditorium
310 E. Kingsbridge Road
Bronx, NY 10458
RSVP here