The Heritage Foundation

News Releases

July 1, 2016

July 1, 2016 | News Releases on

Heritage Welcomes Senate Aide and Academic James Wallner as New Head of Research

James Wallner, Ph.D., a key U.S. Senate aide, academic, and expert in policymaking, will join The Heritage Foundation this month as the leading think tank’s group vice president for research.

Wallner, currently executive director of the Senate Steering Committee, will succeed David Addington as a key member of the leadership team overseeing all Heritage research papers, projects, and initiatives.

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint announced the news.

“We are thrilled to bring Dr. James Wallner on board to lead our team of experts and researchers,” DeMint said. “His dedication to solid research informing pro-growth conservative policies is exactly the kind of leadership that gives Heritage a great impact on Capitol Hill and around the nation.”

A respected Capitol Hill hand for more than a decade, Wallner has been executive director of the Senate Steering Committee since 2012. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is the current chairman of the group of two dozen senators, designed to forge cooperation on floor tactics and inform members of conservative policy solutions.

“It has truly been a privilege to work with James Wallner these past few years,” Lee said. “His knowledge of Senate procedure is simply unmatched. He will be missed here on Team Lee, and Heritage is very lucky to have him.”

“It is an honor to join the Heritage team,” Wallner said. “The Heritage Foundation is the most important institution in the conservative movement and has served as an intellectual anchor for me throughout my Senate career.”

He added:

“I am excited to work with Jim DeMint and Heritage’s team of first-class researchers and public policy experts to provide Congress, the administration, and the American people with high-quality analysis and innovative policy solutions grounded in the principles of our nation’s founding.”

Wallner begins work at Heritage, America’s most widely supported public policy research organization, on July 18.

He will be responsible for research centers focused on developing and advancing policies to further free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

Wallner is known on Capitol Hill and in public policy circles for a studious bent and passion to achieve better policy through the legislative process.

In 2011-2012, Wallner was legislative director for Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. From 2008-2011, he was legislative director for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. He worked as legislative assistant for Sessions for two years before that, and for Rep. Terry Everett, R-Ala., in 2005-2007.

“James Wallner not only understands a wide range of policy issues, but he is a master of the congressional rules and procedures needed to turn conservative philosophies into action,” Toomey said of Wallner’s move to Heritage.

Since 2012, Wallner has been an adjunct professor of politics at Catholic University and was a lecturer in the politics department there in 2010-2012.

He received both his doctoral and master’s degrees in politics, with distinction, from Catholic University. He also holds a master’s degree in international and European politics from University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from University of Georgia.

He is the author of “The Death of Deliberation: Partisanship & Polarization in the United States Senate (Lexington Books, 2013). He currently is writing a history of the Senate.

Wallner’s articles on Senate and House procedures, including the judicial filibuster and congressional budgeting, have appeared in journals such as the Journal of Law and Politics, the Journal of Policy History, and the Journal of Legislative Studies.

“Our friends at The Heritage Foundation are fortunate to have hired Dr. James Wallner away from Capitol Hill,” said Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, another conservative think tank in Washington. “James is passionate about America’s unique institutions, and he pairs a bright policy mind with limitless intellectual curiosity.”

"James Wallner will be an excellent addition to The Heritage Foundation's leadership team,” said former attorney general Edwin Meese III, Heritage’s Ronald Reagan distinguished fellow emeritus. “His strong background in the conservative movement is demonstrated by his executive role in the Senate Steering Committee, his work with the Conservative Action Project and other similar organizations, and his extensive writing on constitutional government subjects. His professional staff experience in Congress and his academic achievements will be an asset to Heritage's public policy research activities."

Wallner, who was born and grew up in Columbus, Georgia, also has made presentations and appeared on panels at The Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, the Academy of Philosophy and Letters, and the annual conference of American University’s School of Public Affairs.

About the Author