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  • To get Congress to do anything.

    • Helen Keller,
    • when asked what she considered the hardest thing in the world, in Van Wyck Brooks, Helen Keller ()
  • Some members of Congress are among the best actors in the world.

  • Congress seems drugged and inert most of the time. ... Its idea of meeting a problem is to hold hearings or, in extreme cases, to appoint a commission.

  • Some fine men are in Congress, too few, trying to do a responsible job. But they are surrounded and almost neutralized by a greater number whose instinct is to make a deal before they make a decision.

  • As things are now, no one can tell to whom members of Congress are responsible, except that it does not often appear to be to the people. Everyone else is represented in Washington by a rich and powerful lobby, it seems. But there is no lobby for the people.

  • I do strive to think well of my fellow man, but no amount of striving can give me confidence in the wisdom of a congressional vote.

  • ... Congress — these, for the most part, illiterate hacks whose fancy vests are spotted with gravy, and whose speeches, hypocritical, unctuous, and slovenly, are spotted also with the gravy of political patronage ...

    • Mary McCarthy,
    • "America the Beautiful: The Humanist in the Bathtub" (1947), On the Contrary ()
  • Congress is broken. ... It's dysfunctional here.

  • The inside operation of Congress — the deals, the compromises, the selling out, the co-opting, the unprincipled manipulating, the self-serving career-building — is a story of such monumental decadence that I believe if people find out about it they will demand an end to it.

  • Both houses are dominated by a male, white, middle-aged, middle- and upper-middle-class power elite that stand with their backs turned to the needs and demands of our people for realistic change.

  • Congress is a middle-aged, middle-class, white male power structure ... no wonder it's been so totally unresponsive to the needs of this country.

  • We favor putting Congress on a commission basis. Pay them for results. If they do a good job and the country prospers, they get 10% of the extra take.

  • The Senate is the only show in the world where the cash customers have to sit in the balcony.

  • In America ... who is to stop congress from spending too much money. They will not stop themselves, that is certain. Everybody has to think about that now. Who is to stop them.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "More About Money" (1936), How Writing Is Written ()
  • ... we have not been impressed with any attribute of the Senate other than its appearance and manners. We have heard the best speakers: they all fire off speeches which deal with the entire subject in general terms and which do not attempt to debate, to answer opponents' arguments or offer new points for discussion. And the speeches are constantly degenerating into empty rhetoric; they abound in quotations from well-known authors or from their own former speeches.

    • Beatrice Webb,
    • 1898, in David A. Shannon, ed., Beatrice Webb's American Diary ()
  • It's really funny if two women stand on the House floor. There are usually at least two men who go by and say, 'What is this, a coup?' They're almost afraid to see us in public together.

  • [On the House of Representatives:] Everyone here checks their spines in the cloakrooms.

  • It was, however, really mortifying to see this splendid hall, fitted up in so stately and sumptuous a manner, filled with men sitting in the most unseemly attitudes, a large majority with their hats on, and nearly all spitting to an excess that decency forbids me to describe.

  • When women go off together we call it separatism. When men go off together we call it Congress.

  • No matter who is in power in Washington, Congress has always shown a remarkable ability to band together and pass tax cuts that are not paid for. It's like naming post offices, only somewhat more expensive. ... For instance, both chambers recently approved a big new ethics reform bill that would ban members of Congress from engaging in insider trading. Perhaps you imagined that this was already against the law. This piece of legislation had been lying around gathering dust since 2006. But, this year, the House and Senate decided to stand tall and pass it as a matter of principle. It had nothing to do with a '60 Minutes' report that made the whole place look like a convention of grifters. Totally unrelated. This was simply a bill whose time had come.

    • Gail Collins,
    • "Congress Has No Date for the Prom," in The New York Times ()
  • I am shocked to report that Congress, the beating heart of American democracy, is unpopular. Not unpopular like a shy kid in junior high. Unpopular like the Ebola virus, or zombies. Held in near-universal contempt, like TV shows about hoarders with dead cats in their kitchens. Or people who get students to call you up during dinner and ask you to give money to your old university. The latest Gallup poll gave Congress a 10 percent approval rating.

    • Gail Collins,
    • "Congress Has No Date for the Prom," in The New York Times ()
  • You had to be tough to be a female member of Congress.

  • With a measly 18 percent of our Congress composed of women, the U.S. ranks just 77th in the world in terms of women in elected office, surpassed by such countries as Ezbekistan and Moldova.

  • Sport has been called the last bastion of male domination. Unfortunately, there are others — Congress, for instance.