The National History Center’s Congressional Briefings are designed to provide historical context and perspective on current issues for policy makers and members of their staff. The speakers reflect upon historical events and developments that have influenced the evolution of current policies and provide knowledge pertinent to the consideration of policy alternatives.
At our most recent Congressional Briefing in March, Saul Cornell (Fordham) and Darrell A. H. Miller (Duke) discussed the history of gun legislation and jurisprudence in a panel moderated by Karin Wulf (William & Mary). Past efforts at regulation since the revolutionary period speak to present and future efforts to legislate and rule legally on interpretations of the Second Amendment.
At February’s Congressional Briefing, “How Congress Reforms Itself: Historical Perspectives on Rules Changes” — recently aired on C-SPAN — leading historians of both bodies of Congress addressed past changes to rules and the overall history of congressional reform and rule changes since 1789. A panel of four historians — Matthew Wasniewski (House of Representatives), Daniel S. Holt (Senate), John Lawrence (University of California’s Washington Center), and moderator Michele Swers (Georgetown University) — presented perspectives on how these modifications have changed the way congress works over time, and they explored some of the unintended consequences of reform efforts.
In October, the National History Center hosted a congressional briefing on the history of US refugee policy. At the briefing, Carl Bon Tempo (SUNY-Albany) and Maria Cristina Garcia (Cornell) outlined the evolution of refugee policy from the immediate postwar period through the Refugee Act of 1980.
A video recording of the briefing is available here, in C-SPAN’s video library. You can read a one-page briefing summary here.