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Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies

American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies (CCPS) serves scholars, students, policymakers and the public by propelling actionable research, providing public education and promoting a more reasonable democratic square.

2023 Inaugural Thurber Dialogue on Democracy with Bob Bauer

Register now for the Inaugural 2023 Thurber Dialogue on Democracy—a conversation with Bob Bauer and AU Professor Silvia Kim. On Wednesday, January 25 at 5pm, CCPS will welcome professor of practice and distinguished scholar in residence at NYU School of Law and co-director of NYU Law’s Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic, Bob Bauer.

This event will be held in the Founder’s Room (SIS T7) of the School of International Service on American University’s campus. A reception with food and drink will follow.

Bauer served as White House Counsel to President Obama from 2009 to 2011. In 2013, the President named him to be co-chair of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. In 2021, President Biden named him to be co-chair of the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Bauer is co-author with Jack Goldsmith of After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency (2020), books on federal campaign finance and numerous articles on law and politics for legal periodicals. He has co-authored numerous bipartisan reports on policy and legal reform. He is a Contributing Editor of Lawfare and has published opinion pieces on constitutional and political law issues in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic, among other publications.

In this conversation, he will discuss his ideas for electoral, presidential and judicial reform in the United States. This event is sponsored by CCPS and KPU. Register here for this event.

CCPS Fellow Donald Wolfensberger's 117th Congress Data Set

Published 2023
View 117th Rules Data


CCPS Director Professor Barker interviewed by C-SPAN

Professor David Barker was interviewed on January 2, 2023 to give a preview of the 118th Congress and prospects for divided government. View the recording below.

CCPS’s Taylor-Fillmore project awarded $125,500 in grants

January 2023

The Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies recently won two grants totaling $125,500 to support the Correspondence of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore in 2023–24. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) awarded $115,000 as part of its grant program for Publishing Historical Records in Collaborative Digital Editions. The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation announced a $10,000 grant as part of its Humanities Program. Both are current sponsors, and we are grateful for their continued generosity. The Taylor-Fillmore project is preparing a print and digital edition of the 12th and 13th presidents’ letters from 1844–53. CCPS faculty fellow Michael David Cohen serves as editor; CCPS fellow Amy Larrabee Cotz, as associate editor. For more information, see the NHPRC’s press release and detailed listing of grant recipients.

The First Annual International Legislators' Forum on Innovations in Democracy Recap
November 2022

The Legislators’ Forum on Innovations in Democracy was organized by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), a nonprofit chartered by Congress in 1953 to strengthen civic life in America, the Institute for Democratic Engagement & Accountability (IDEA) at the Ohio State University and the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University.

On November 16, 2022, The Forum brought together 12 U.S. Members of Congress with senators, members of national parliaments, Members of the EU Parliament, and senior staff from the other countries, which also included France, Greece, Italy, and the U.K. Forum participants shared findings and stories from their work to engage citizens in more productive, civil, and meaningful ways.
View Forum Recap


Thurber Dialogues on Democracy

The Center for Congressional Presidential Studies is proud to announce, and very grateful to receive, a generous gift from Distinguished University Emeritus Professor Jim Thurber and his wife Claudia Thurber. Their gift will fund the Center’s Dialogues on Democracy (now the Thurber Dialogues on Democracy), an ongoing series of conversations with prominent thought leaders about how to strengthen democracy in the US and abroad. In 2021, their inaugural year, the Dialogues drew nearly 500 attendees per event, featuring Senator Cory Booker, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, author/journalist Anne Applebaum, and social scientists Robert Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett. Thanks to the Thurbers’ benevolence, vision, and public-spiritedness, the Dialogues will now continue.

The inaugural Thurber Dialogue on Democracy of 2022 featured Rep. Adam Schiff for a conversation with Professor Jim Thurber on Thursday, March 31, 2022. This event, co-hosted by CCPS and KPU, was held via Zoom and the link to the recording of the event is available here.

The second Thurber Dialogue on Democracy featured Rep. Hakeem Jeffries for a conversation with Professor Liz Suhay on Tuesday, April 19th at 7:00pm. This event, co-hosted by CCPS and KPU, was held via Zoom and the recording of the event is available here.

The third and final Thurber Dialogue of Democracy took place on Thursday, May 5th at 6:00pm via Zoom and featured Harvard University political scientists Professor Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. They discussed their 2018 New York Times Best Seller, How Democracies Die, and broader themes of their work in recent events. This event was moderated by American University Professor Laura Paler.

Prof. David Barker and Prof. Liz Suhay's new book, The Politics of Truth in Polarized America, is out now
December 2021

In American politics, the truth is rapidly losing relevance. The public square is teeming with misinformation, conspiracy theories, cynicism, and hubris. Why has this happened? What does it mean? What can we do about it? In this volume, leading scholars offer multiple perspectives on these questions, and many more, to provide the first comprehensive empirical examination of the "politics of truth" -- its context, causes, and potential correctives. With experts in social science weighing in, this volume examines different drivers such as the dynamics of politically motivated fact perceptions.

Combining insights from the fields of political science, political theory, communication, and psychology and offering substantial new arguments and evidence, these chapters draw compelling -- if sometimes competing -- conclusions regarding this rising democratic threat.

More information available here.

American University’s New Perspectives in Studies of American Governance program awarded $200,000 grant

September 2021

With support from the Hewlett Foundation’s U.S. Democracy Program, the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University was recently awarded a $200,000 grant to promote New Perspectives in Studies of American Governance (NP). The NP program, in partnership with Purdue University, incentivizes emerging scholars to broaden the range of perspectives with respect to gender, race/ethnicity, capacity, and culture when pursuing insight into American governance at the federal level. 

Specifically, the NP includes a small grants program for scholars of Congress and the Executive branch, whose research examines new questions and/or does so from a broader point of view than has traditionally been the case in these fields. A call for proposals will be disseminated in coming months.

The Principal Investigators of this program include David Barker, Professor of Government and Director of CCPS, Bettina Poirier, Director of the Program on Legislative Negotiation and Senior Affiliate for WCL, and Valeria Sinclair- Chapman, Professor of Political Science, African American Studies, and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Purdue University. She is also Director of Purdue’s Center for Research on Diversity and Inclusion as well as its Legislative Internship Program.

American University’s Program on Legislative Negotiation, a joint endeavor of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies and the Washington College of Law, awarded $1.2 million dollar grant

August 2021

With a new round of support from the Hewlett Foundation’s U.S. Democracy Program, American University’s Washington College of Law (WCL) and Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies (CCPS) are expanding the Program on Legislative Negotiation (PLN).

The overarching purpose of this program is to create a culture of bipartisan negotiation in Congress and state legislatures via targeted training, educational initiatives, and scholarly research. The PLN will carry out four sets of specific activities over the three-year period covered by this grant, including Congressional staff trainings, experiential learning for students and professionals, new research and dissemination, and building a learning community.

The PLN will continue to be led by Director, Professor Bettina Poirier, a former high-level Capitol Hill staffer, with approximately 15 years of experience in senior roles in the House and Senate.

Professor Poirier will work closely with the Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies (CCPS), David Barker, who serves as a co-principal investigator on this joint WCL/SPA effort.

AU President Sylvia Burwell has continued to express enthusiastic support for the PLN. AU is committed to ensuring its ongoing vibrancy well beyond the life of this grant.

A conversation with James E. Clyburn

James Clyburn, U.S. House Majority Whip (D-SC), reflects on his experience and offers his perspective on the Biden administration, the prospects for racial progress, and the state of U.S. democracy

Correspondence of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore Project

This project locates and publishes letters, from 1844–53, of the twelfth and thirteenth U.S. presidents.
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Congress & the Presidency Journal

Congress and the Presidency: A Journal of Capital StudiesThis publication is an interdisciplinary journal of political science and history, published by American University, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies since 1984. The journal is now being published three times a year. Congress & the Presidency features articles on Congress, the President, the interaction between the two institutions, and national policy-making.
View latest articles


Contact Us

(202) 885-3491

Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies
Kerwin Hall, Room 235
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016

Rivals for Power book cover

Research ·

Rivals for Power: Biden’s Agenda in a Dysfunctional Congress

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Robert Putnam, Shaylyn Romney Garrett, Jim Thurber

Government & Politics ·

Can Today’s Polarized America Come Together Again?

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David Barker

Government & Politics ·

SPA Professor David Barker Tracks Support for Political Protests

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European Public Affairs & Advocacy Institute students

European Public Affairs & Advocacy Institute

This unique course will introduce students to the art and craft of lobbying in the European Union.

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political signs

American University Magazine American

My Favorites: Rising Political Stars

Top 10 up-and-coming politicians

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Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute

Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute

The Institute features a two-week intensive course in major aspects of lobbying and political influence.

More about PAAI

James Thurber, middle, sits in the Campaign Management Institute classroom.

Campaign Management Institute

The Campaign Management Institute has become an internationally recognized curriculum in the art and science of campaigning.

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CCPS Video & Audio Clips

  • Setting Limits on Presidential Power Under the Trump Administration

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  • The Transition and the First 100 Days of the Trump Presidency

    Watch the video

Thurber Scholarship Endowment students

Thurber Scholarship Endowment

The James and Claudia Thurber Scholarship Endowment, established by former AU students and colleagues.

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