From the Congressional Management Foundation:

A new survey confirms what many Americans already believe: Congress is not doing well. State of the Congress 2024 was based on a survey of senior congressional staff conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF). A large majority (81%) said Congress is not “functioning as a democratic legislature should,” and identified deficiencies in the institution, especially with regards to civility and bipartisan collaboration. However, when comparing this late 2023 survey to a similar one conducted in early 2022, many metrics related to the capacity of the institution to function had improved.




“What we found offers both hope and reason for concern,” the authors of the study wrote. “Based on results comparing the 2023 survey to the 2022 survey, Congress may have improved in some important areas of legislative functionality including: access to high-quality, nonpartisan policy expertise within the Legislative Branch; the technological infrastructure; congressional capacity and support; human resource support; Members’ and staffers’ understanding of Congress’ role in democracy; and accessibility and accountability to the public. But there is still a lot of room for continued improvement.”


The report noted that improved attitudes are most likely attributed to the work of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, an equally bipartisan House committee that developed more than 200 recommendations to improve the House of Representatives from 2019 to 2023, with many already implemented. The work of the Committee led the House to create a Subcommittee on Modernization under the Committee on House Administration in 2023 which continues to implement improvements and focus attention on congressional modernization.


Among the key findings:

  • Civility and bipartisanship were important to almost all senior staffers surveyed, but virtually no one is satisfied with the current state. Republicans (85%) and Democrats (70%) said civility was “very important” to a functioning legislature; and 60% of Republicans and 51% of Democrats said encouraging bipartisanship was “very important.” However, only 2% of Republicans and zero (0%) Democrats were “very satisfied” with the civility in the institution; and no one of either party (0%) reported they were “very satisfied” with bipartisanship. A large number (96% of Democrats and 98% of Republicans) agreed that “it is necessary for Senators and Representatives to collaborate across party lines to best meet the needs of the nation.”
  • More Republicans (31%) than Democrats (12%) agreed that Congress is “functioning as a democratic legislature should.”
  • Alarmingly, Democratic congressional staff report concern over their personal safety. When asked how satisfied they were that “Members and staff feel safe doing their jobs” only 21% of Democratic staff said they were satisfied with the current environment compared to 61% of Republican staff. Democrats (68%) and Republicans (73%) similarly report personally experiencing “direct insulting or threatening messages or communication” at least “somewhat frequently.”
  • When asked how frequently they questioned “whether I should stay in Congress due to heated rhetoric from my party,” 59% of Republican staff are at least somewhat frequently considering leaving Congress compared to 16% of Democrats.
  • Regarding the capacity of the institution to perform its role in democracy, comparing the same survey question from 2022 measuring staff satisfaction, “access to high-quality, non-partisan expertise within the Legislative Branch” went from 12% “very satisfied” to 32% in 2023; “technological infrastructure is adequate” saw an increase in “very satisfied” from 5% in 2022 to 11% in 2023; and Congress having “adequate human resource support” went from 6% “very satisfied” in 2022 to 14% in 2023.
  • Regarding congressional accountability and accessibility to the public most senior staffers were satisfied with Congress’ physical (96%) and technological (85%) accessibility to the public. And similar percentages of Republicans (71%) and Democrats (70%) consider it “very important” that “constituents have sufficient means to hold their Senators/Representative accountable for their performance,” Republicans (50%) are much more likely to be “very satisfied” with the current state than Democrats (18%).

“While the findings overall suggest the absolute need for improving Congress, the positive change in attitudes about the capacity of the institution to do its job demonstrates that we can improve our democracy,” said Bradford Fitch, President and CEO of CMF. “It’s highly likely that the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress and the new Subcommittee on Modernization were the catalysts for this change. This shows that a bipartisan group of lawmakers, acting in good faith and in a thoughtful way, can improve our democratic institutions and provide better representation and service to the American public.”


The survey involved 138 staff, with 55% having served 10 years or more in the Congress. The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan nonprofit founded in 1977 dedicated to strengthening Congress and building trust in its work with and for the American people. CMF works to revitalize Congress as an institution; promotes best practices in congressional offices; and helps Congress and the people they represent engage in a constructive and inclusive dialogue toward a thriving American democracy.