Impact

McCourtney Institute visiting fellow to discuss polarization in Congress Oct. 19

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As the future of the national debt hangs in the balance, the question of how Congress can move beyond gridlock to get things done is more relevant than ever. McCourtney Institute for Democracy Visiting Fellow Charlie Dent spent 14 years in Congress and will offer his perspective in a lecture at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 19, in the Hintz Family Alumni Center.

Congressman Charlie Dent will serve as the McCourtney Institute for Democracy's first visiting fellow this fall. Credit: Photo ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

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

His lecture will address what happens to American democracy if Congress becomes too paralyzed by polarization, as well as some of the individuals and organizations working to reimagine how Congress works. He will draw from his own experience in Congress and his work leading bipartisan policy education programs for legislators as part of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program.

Dent said bipartisan actions in Congress have been decreasing and he hopes that actions like the COVID-19 stimulus packages and recent discussions on infrastructure can provide a blueprint for more work across the aisle moving forward.

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

Dent’s lecture also will address how the budget reconciliation process works and how it’s a deviation from Congress’ standard operating procedure. In recent years, reconciliation has been used to pass legislation with a simple majority, rather than the 60-vote majority needed to pass legislation without a filibuster.

Both in-person and online attendance is available for Dent’s Oct. 19 lecture. In-person attendance at Hintz will be set up to accommodate physical distancing. Visit the McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s website for more information and to register.

Last Updated October 04, 2021