Column: The seniority system is ready for retirement (Free-Lance Star)

free lance starThe Seniority System is Ready for Retirement
Opinion column
Free-Lance Star, January 7, 2014

By Stephen J. Farnsworth

“AFTER THE legislative mayhem that marked 2013 in Washington, it is hard to imagine that Congress could get much worse in 2014.”

“But I am guessing it will. With the ever-present threat of budgetary meltdowns, and the inability to accomplish anything substantive, it’s clear many of our lawmakers have gotten too comfortable in Washington. The pre-Christmas stop-gap budget deal was only the latest effort by lawmakers to pretend to accomplish something while actually doing astonishingly little.”

“At the core of Congress’ problems is the seniority system, which allows much of the chamber’s power to be placed in the hands of committee and subcommittee chairs whose claim to power is that they have been around longer than everyone else in the majority party on the panel. Seniority may be fine for selecting the best offices and parking spaces on Capitol Hill, but near-blind adherence to length of time in office too often can lead to out-of-touch, parochial and mediocre subcommittee and committee leadership.”

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