The Broken Chamber: The Modern Senate and the Crippling of Democracy
February 8, 2021
The U.S. Senate, once known as “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” is broken. Using the filibuster as a cudgel, a conservative minority has hijacked the chamber, preventing passage of popular legislation and much-needed democracy reform. In his critically acclaimed new book, Kill Switch, longtime Hill insider Adam Jentleson shows that many of the greatest challenges of our era — partisan polarization, dark money, a media culture built on manufactured outrage — converge within the Senate. And he makes clear that without serious reform, we face the prospect of permanent minority rule in America.
Adam Jentleson, Public Affairs Director, Democracy Forward
Adam Jentleson is Public Affairs Director at Democracy Forward. Prior to joining Democracy Forward, Adam served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), advising on political, legislative, and communications strategy and leading one of the largest and most diverse communications teams on Capitol Hill. Adam has over a decade of experience working at the intersection of policy, communications and legislative strategy. Adam has been cited in most major news outlets and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, GQ and Politico.
A proud product of Montgomery County, MD, public schools, Adam holds a BA in American History from Columbia University.
Victoria Bassetti, Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice
Victoria Bassetti is a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice. She is the author of Electoral Dysfunction: A Survival Manual for American Voters, the companion book to a PBS documentary by the same name. Her writings have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, Politico, USA Today, Washington Monthly, and Harper’s. She worked on Capitol Hill for almost a decade. Among other posts, she served as chief counsel to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and legislative director for Sen. John Edwards (D-NC). She was chief counsel and staff director of a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee and served on the team that drafted the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, the Patriot Act, the Economic Espionage Act, and the Homeland Security Act and oversaw matters related to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
While on Capitol Hill, Bassetti led a multiyear, multihearing bipartisan investigation into innovation and competition in the medical device field that culminated in a first-ever voluntary code of conduct agreed to by hospital device purchasing organizations. The code was heralded by the New York Times as “sweeping” and aimed at “mak[ing] it easier for new, lifesaving medical products to reach hospitals faster.” She was also the line Democratic counsel on the bipartisan Ruby Ridge investigation, which culminated in a series of congressional requirements imposed on the FBI, ATF, and U.S. Marshal’s Service. She was also a member of the select team of lawyers that oversaw the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.