Of course, Big Government today is largely coterminous with the administrative state. From 1995 to 2017, the executive branch issued over 92,000 rules, compared to 4,400 laws enacted by Congress. The regulatory agencies behind all this lawmaking didn’t materialize from thin air; rather, they were created by legislation, and Congress paired these “delegations” with an oversight framework.
Passed during the administrative state’s adolescence, the 1946 Legislative Reorganization Act established Congress’s strategy for supervising the regulators. The Act tasked issue-specific committees with a duty to conduct “continuous watchfulness” over administrative policymaking. To execute this mandate, the Act provided committees with professional staffs.
By design, therefore, committee staffers are crucial cogs in Congress’s oversight machinery, and this understanding served as conventional wisdom among lawmakers through much of the last century. Yet this prevailing sense abated during the 1980s and, ultimately, disappeared by the mid-1990s.