Although legislative studies is thriving, it suffers from one glaring weakness: a lack of truly comparative, cross-institutional research. Instead, research focuses overwhelmingly on the U.S. Congress. This unfortunate fixation limits the way scholars approach the testing of many compelling theories of legislative organization and behavior, and it ignores the invaluable research possibilities that comparison with the 99 American state legislative chambers offers.
State legislatures are easily compared to Congress: They arise out of the same political culture and history. Their members represent the same parties and face the same voters in the same elections using the same rules. And the functions and roles are the same, with each fully capable of initiating, debating, and passing legislation. None of the methodological problems found when comparing presidential system legislatures with parliamentary system legislatures arise when comparing Congress and the state legislatures.
However, while there are great similarities, there are also important differences that provide scholars leverage for rigorously testing theories. The book compares and contrasts Congress and the state legislatures on histories, fundamental structures, institutional and organizational characteristics, and members. By highlighting the vast array of organizational schemes and behavioral patterns evidenced in state legislatures, the authors demonstrate that the potential for the study of American legislatures, as opposed to the separate efforts of Congressional and state legislative scholars, is too great to leave unexplored.
The U.S. Congress is typically seen as an institution filled with career politicians who have been seasoned by experience in lower levels of political office. In fact, political amateurs have comprised roughly one quarter of the House of Representatives since 1930. The effect of amateurs' inexperience on their political careers, roles in Congress, and impact on the political system has never been analyzed in detail.
Written in a lucid style accessible to the nonspecialist, David T. Canon's Actors, Athletes, and Astronauts is a definitive study of political amateurs in elections and in Congress. Canon examines the political conditions that prompt amateurs to run for office, why they win or lose, and whether elected amateurs behave differently from their experienced counterparts. Challenging previous work which presumed stable career structures and progressively ambitious candidates, his study reveals that amateurs are disproportionately elected in periods of high political opportunity, such as the 1930s for Democrats and 1980s for Republicans.
Canon's detailed findings call for significant revision of our prevailing understanding of ambition theory and disarm monolithic interpretations of political amateurs. His unique typology of amateurism differentiates among policy-oriented, "hopeless," or ambitious amateurs. The latter resemble their professional counterparts; "hopeless" amateurs are swept into office by strong partisan motivations and decision-making styles of each type vary, affecting their degree of success, but each type of amateur provides a necessary electoral balance by defeating entrenched incumbents rarely challenged by more experienced politicians.
Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in the U.S. House of Representatives, was elected in 1968. That was nearly a hundred years after the election of the first African American man to Congress and fifty years after the first woman. A quarter of a century after Chisholm's election, the first Black woman, Carol Moseley-Braun, was elected to the United States Senate. It was not until 1993, when ten additional Black women won seats in the 103rd Congress, that African American women were allowed to serve their country and their constituencies in any substantial numbers. In 1997 that historic moment will very likely be lost as congressional districts are redrawn by court order. This remarkable book by LaVerne Gill preserves the history of the struggles and accomplishments of these fifteen courageous women, and will move others to learn from and follow their example.
African American Women in Congress details the life and career histories of Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, Yvonne Burke, Cardiss Collins, Katie Hall, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Maxine Waters, Barbara-Rose Collins, Carol Moseley-Braun, Corinne Brown, Carrie Meek, Cynthia McKinney, Eva Clayton, Eddie Bernice Johnson, and Sheila Jackson-Lee. Each profile contains a picture of its subject, interview material, and resumés. Arranged chronologically, the book introduces the reader to issues of vital importance to the Black community—Reconstruction, enfranchisement, lynchings and harassment, civil rights struggles, the founding of advocacy groups, the power of the Congressional Black Caucus, the creation of majority minority districts that allowed greater representation in Congress, the struggle of largely Black Washington, D.C., for representation, and the recent dismantling of past gains by a Republican majority. Gill also describes the uphill battles for social justice and the rights of women that the fifteen women had to wage even within their own political parties, political organizations, and districts.
For general readers, high school and college students, and anyone interested in the political process, this book is illuminating and inspiring reading.
When the United States goes to war, the nation’s attention focuses on the president. As commander in chief, a president reaches the zenith of power, while Congress is supposedly shunted to the sidelines once troops have been deployed abroad. Because of Congress’s repeated failure to exercise its legislative powers to rein in presidents, many have proclaimed its irrelevance in military matters.
After the Rubicon challenges this conventional wisdom by illuminating the diverse ways in which legislators influence the conduct of military affairs. Douglas L. Kriner reveals that even in politically sensitive wartime environments, individual members of Congress frequently propose legislation, hold investigative hearings, and engage in national policy debates in the public sphere. These actions influence the president’s strategic decisions as he weighs the political costs of pursuing his preferred military course.
Marshalling a wealth of quantitative and historical evidence, Kriner expertly demonstrates the full extent to which Congress materially shapes the initiation, scope, and duration of major military actions and sheds new light on the timely issue of interbranch relations.
The Almanac of American Politics 2014
Michael Barone, Chuck McCutcheon, Sean Trende, and Josh Kraushaar University of Chicago Press, 2013 Library of Congress JK1012.A44 | Dewey Decimal 328.73005
The Almanac of American Politics is the gold standard—the book that everyone involved, invested, or interested in American politics must have on their reference shelf. Continuing the tradition of accurate and up-to-date information, the 2014 almanac includes new and updated profiles of every member of Congress and every state governor. These profiles cover everything from expenditures to voting records, interest-group ratings, and, of course, politics. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories. The new edition contains Michael Barone’s sharp-eyed analysis of the 2012 election, both congressional and presidential, exploring how the votes fell and what they mean for future legislation. The almanac also provides comprehensive coverage of the changes brought about by the 2010 census and has been reorganized to align with the resulting new districts.
Like every edition since the almanac first appeared in 1972, the 2014 edition is helmed by veteran political analyst Michael Barone. Together with Chuck McCutcheon, collaborator since 2012, and two new editors, Sean Trende, senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics, and Josh Kraushaar, managing editor at National Journal, Barone offers an unparalleled perspective on contemporary politics.
Full of maps, census data, and detailed information about the American political landscape, the 2014 Almanac of American Politics remains the most comprehensive resource for journalists, politicos, business people, and academics.
"Jones and McDermott restore meaning to democratic responsibility by finding that public evaluations affect Congress. In contrast to the popular depiction of the representatives controlling the represented
rampant in the political science literature, Jones and McDermott show that the people are in control, determining not only the direction of policy in Congress, but also who stays, who retires, and who faces difficult reelection efforts. This book makes an important correction to our understanding of how Congress operates."
---Sean M. Theriault, University of Texas at Austin
Voters may not know the details of specific policies, but they have a general sense of how well Congress serves their own interests; and astute politicians pay attention to public approval ratings. When the majority party is unpopular, as during the 2008 election, both voters and politicians take a hand in reconfiguring the House and the Senate. Voters throw hard-line party members out of office while candidates who continue to run under the party banner distance themselves from party ideology. In this way, public approval directly affects policy shifts as well as turnovers at election time. Contrary to the common view of Congress as an insulated institution, Jones and McDermott argue that Congress is indeed responsive to the people of the United States.
David R. Jones is Professor of Political Science at Baruch College, City University of New York.
Monika L. McDermott is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University.
Before 1946 the congressional role in public administration had been limited to authorization, funding, and review of federal administrative operations, which had grown rapidly as a result of the New Deal and the Second World War. But in passing the Administrative Procedure Act and the Legislative Reorganization Act that pivotal year, Congress self-consciously created for itself a comprehensive role in public administration. Reluctant to delegate legislative authority to federal agencies, Congress decided to treat the agencies as extensions of itself and established a framework for comprehensive regulation of the agencies' procedures. Additionally, Congress reorganized itself so it could provide continuous supervision of federal agencies.
Rosenbloom shows how these 1946 changes in the congressional role in public administration laid the groundwork for future major legislative acts, including the Freedom of Information Act (1966), Privacy Act (1974), Government in the Sunshine Act (1976), Paperwork Reduction Acts (1980, 1995), Chief Financial Officers Act (1990), and Small Business Regulatory Fairness Enforcement Act (1996). Each of these acts, and many others, has contributed to the legislative-centered public administration that Congress has formed over the past 50 years.
This first book-length study of the subject provides a comprehensive explanation of the institutional interests, values, and logic behind the contemporary role of Congress in federal administration and attempts to move the public administration field beyond condemning legislative "micromanagement" to understanding why Congress values it.
2001 Louis Brownlow Award from the National Academy of Public Administration
The 2008 election was an extraordinary event that represented change at many levels. The candidates’ innovative campaigns changed how funds were raised, how voters were mobilized, and how messages were communicated through advertising and the internet. Parties and interest groups played their own important role in this historic election. In The Change Election, David Magleby assembles a team of accomplished political scientists to provide an in-depth analysis of this groundbreaking presidential election. These scholars through a set of compelling case studies examine the competition for votes in a dozen competitive House and Senate contests and for the White House in five states: Ohio, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado, and New Mexico.
Backed by a wealth of data, and extensive interviews, the contributors offer an up-close look at the interactions of candidates' individual skills and personalities with the larger political forces at work in the election year. The book offers insights into the rapidly evolving organizational and technical aspects of campaigning. The dramatic success Obama and other candidates had in raising money—especially from small donors—is addressed along with how money was raised and spent by the candidates, party committees, and interest groups competing for votes.
Building on a tested methodology, The Change Election explores the interplay of money and electioneering. Magleby builds on more than a decade of prior studies to show the ways participants in our electoral process have adapted to statutory and judicial decisions and how the 2008 election has the potential to transform American electoral politics.
Most literature on the Civil War focuses on soldiers, battles, and politics. But for every soldier in the United States Army, there were nine civilians at home. The war affected those left on the home front in many ways. Westward expansion and land ownership increased. The draft disrupted families while a shortage of male workers created opportunities for women that were previously unknown.
The war also enlarged the national government in ways unimagined before 1861. The Homestead Act, the Land Grant College Act, civil rights legislation, the use of paper currency, and creation of the Internal Revenue Service to collect taxes to pay for the war all illustrate how the war fundamentally, and permanently, changed the nation.
The essays in this book, drawn from a wide range of historical expertise and approaching the topic from a variety of angles, explore the changes in life at home that led to a revolution in American society and set the stage for the making of modern America.
Contributors: Jean H. Baker, Jenny Bourne, Paul Finkelman, Guy Gugliotta, Daniel W. Stowell, Peter Wallenstein, Jennifer L. Weber.
The public, journalists, and legislators themselves have often lamented a decline in congressional lawmaking in recent years, often blaming party politics for the lack of legislative output. In Committees and the Decline of Lawmaking in Congress, Jonathan Lewallen examines the decline in lawmaking from a new, committee-centered perspective. Lewallen tests his theory against other explanations such as partisanship and an increased demand for oversight with multiple empirical tests and traces shifts in policy activity by policy area using the Policy Agendas Project coding scheme.
He finds that because party leaders have more control over the legislative agenda, committees have spent more of their time conducting oversight instead. Partisanship alone does not explain this trend; changes in institutional rules and practices that empowered party leaders have created more uncertainty for committees and contributed to a shift in their policy activities. The shift toward oversight at the committee level combined with party leader control over the voting agenda means that many members of Congress are effectively cut out of many of the institution’s policy decisions. At a time when many, including Congress itself, are considering changes to modernize the institution and keep up with a stronger executive branch, the findings here suggest that strengthening Congress will require more than running different candidates or providing additional resources.
Since Woodrow Wilson, political scientists have recognized the importance of congressional committees in the policy-making process. Congressional committees often determine what legislation will reach the floor of the House or Senate and what form that legislation will take. In spite of the broad consensus on the importance of congressional committees, there is little agreement on what explains committee action. Committees are alternately viewed as agents of the chamber, the party caucuses, or constituencies outside the institution. Each theory suggests a different distribution of power in the policy-making process.
Forrest Maltzman argues that none of these models fully captures the role performed by congressional committees and that committee members attempt to balance the interests of the chamber, the party caucus, and outside constituencies. Over time, and with the changing importance of a committee's agenda to these groups, the responsiveness of members of committees will vary. Maltzman argues that the responsiveness of the committee to these groups is driven by changes in procedure, the strength of the party caucus, and the salience of a committee's agenda. Maltzman tests his theory against historical data.
This book will appeal to social scientists interested in the study of Congress and legislative bodies, as well as those interested in studying the impact of institutional structure on the policy-making process.
"This specialized study, of value to congressional scholars and partisan activists, enriches an understanding of the increasingly predictable patterns of committee variety." --Choice
Forrest Maltzman is Assistant Professor of Political Science, George Washington University.
During the height of the civil rights movement, Blacks were among the most liberal Americans. Since the 1970s, however, increasing representation in national, state, and local government has brought about a more centrist outlook among Black political leaders.
Focusing on the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Katherine Tate studies the ways in which the nation’s most prominent group of Black legislators has developed politically. Organized in 1971, the CBC set out to increase the influence of Black legislators. Indeed, over the past four decades, they have made progress toward the goal of becoming recognized players within Congress. And yet, Tate argues, their incorporation is transforming their policy preferences. Since the Clinton Administration, CBC members—the majority of whom are Democrats—have been less willing to oppose openly congressional party leaders and both Republican and Democratic presidents. Tate documents this transformation with a statistical analysis of Black roll-call votes, using the important Poole-Rosenthal scores from 1977 to 2010. While growing partisanship has affected Congress as a whole, not just minority caucuses, Tate warns that incorporation may mute the independent voice of Black political leaders.
While the president is the commander in chief, the US Congress plays a critical and underappreciated role in civil-military relations—the relationship between the armed forces and the civilian leadership that commands it. This unique book edited by Colton C. Campbell and David P. Auerswald will help readers better understand the role of Congress in military affairs and national and international security policy. Contributors include the most experienced scholars in the field as well as practitioners and innovative new voices, all delving into the ways Congress attempts to direct the military.
This book explores four tools in particular that play a key role in congressional action: the selection of military officers, delegation of authority to the military, oversight of the military branches, and the establishment of incentives—both positive and negative—to encourage appropriate military behavior. The contributors explore the obstacles and pressures faced by legislators including the necessity of balancing national concerns and local interests, partisan and intraparty differences, budgetary constraints, the military's traditional resistance to change, and an ongoing lack of foreign policy consensus at the national level. Yet, despite the considerable barriers, Congress influences policy on everything from closing bases to drone warfare to acquisitions.
A groundbreaking study, Congress and Civil-Military Relations points the way forward in analyzing an overlooked yet fundamental government relationship.
Economic policymaking has perpetually been one of the central dilemmas facing Congress, leading to huge budget deficits and disagreements among legislators about spending priorities and tax policies.
This book examines congressional decision making on economic policy during the Reagan administration. It looks at legislative actions on Reaganomics, tax reform, and the politics of deficit reduction, and shows the importance of looking not just at the consequences of these decisions but also at the legislative processes that led to them.
Using an “activist-based” approach and previously unexamined data, Darrell West shows that district activists, often more conservative than the public at large, exerted a disproportionate and misleading effect on congressional voting. When this support eventually proved unstable, a more skeptical Congress began to eventually back away from the president's policies. This move had serious consequences for deficit reduction and policy initiation, and also influenced the final shape of the tax reform package adopted in 1986.
Congress and the Constitution
Neal Devins and Keith E. Whittington, eds. Duke University Press, 2005 Library of Congress KF4550.C568 2005 | Dewey Decimal 342.7302
For more than a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has turned a skeptical eye toward Congress. Distrustful of Congress’s capacity to respect constitutional boundaries, the Court has recently overturned federal legislation at a historically unprecedented rate. This intensified judicial scrutiny highlights the need for increased attention to how Congress approaches constitutional issues. In this important collection, leading scholars in law and political science examine the role of Congress in constitutional interpretation, demonstrating how to better integrate the legislative branch into understandings of constitutional practice.
Several contributors offer wide-ranging accounts of the workings of Congress. They look at lawmakers’ attitudes toward Congress’s role as a constitutional interpreter, the offices within Congress that help lawmakers learn about constitutional issues, Congress’s willingness to use its confirmation power to shape constitutional decisions by both the executive and the courts, and the frequency with which congressional committees take constitutional questions into account. Other contributors address congressional deliberation, paying particular attention to whether Congress’s constitutional interpretations are sound. Still others examine how Congress and the courts should respond to one another’s decisions, suggesting how the courts should evaluate Congress’s work and considering how lawmakers respond to Court decisions that strike down federal legislation. While some essayists are inclined to evaluate Congress’s constitutional interpretation positively, others argue that it could be improved and suggest institutional and procedural reforms toward that end. Whatever their conclusions, all of the essays underscore the pervasive and crucial role that Congress plays in shaping the meaning of the Constitution.
Contributors. David P. Currie, Neal Devins, William N. Eskridge Jr.. John Ferejohn, Louis Fisher, Elizabeth Garrett, Michael J. Gerhardt, Michael J. Klarman, Bruce G. Peabody, J. Mitchell Pickerill, Barbara Sinclair, Mark Tushnet, Adrian Vermeule, Keith E. Whittington, John C. Yoo
During the long decade from 1848 to 1861 America was like a train speeding down the track, without an engineer or brakes. The new territories acquired from Mexico had vastly increased the size of the nation, but debate over their status—and more importantly the status of slavery within them—paralyzed the nation. Southerners gained access to the territories and a draconian fugitive slave law in the Compromise of 1850, but this only exacerbated sectional tensions. Virtually all northerners, even those who supported the law because they believed that it would preserve the union, despised being turned into slave catchers. In 1854, in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Congress repealed the ban on slavery in the remaining unorganized territories. In 1857, in the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court held that all bans on slavery in the territories were unconstitutional. Meanwhile, northern whites, free blacks, and fugitive slaves resisted the enforcement of the 1850 fugitive slave law. In Congress members carried weapons and Representative Preston Brooks assaulted Senator Charles Sumner with a cane, nearly killing him. This was the decade of the 1850s and these were the issues Congress grappled with.
This volume of new essays examines many of these issues, helping us better understand the failure of political leadership in the decade that led to the Civil War.
Spencer R. Crew
Amy S. Greenberg
Martin J. Hershock
Michael F. Holt
Brooks D. Simpson
In 1815 the United States was a proud and confident nation. Its second war with England had come to a successful conclusion, and Americans seemed united as never before. The collapse of the Federalist party left the Jeffersonian Republicans in control of virtually all important governmental offices. This period of harmony—what historians once called the Era of Good Feeling—was not illusory, but it was far from stable. One-party government could not persist for long in a vibrant democracy full of ambitious politicians, and sectional harmony was possible only as long as no one addressed the hard issues: slavery, race, western expansion, and economic development.
Congress and the Emergence of Sectionalism: From the Missouri Compromise to the Age of Jackson inaugurates a new series for the United States Capitol Historical Society, one that will focus on issues that led to the secession crisis and the Civil War. This first volume examines controversies surrounding sectionalism and the rise of Jacksonian Democracy, placing these sources of conflict in the context of congressional action in the 1820s and 1830s. The essays in this volume consider the plight of American Indians, sectional strife over banking and commerce, emerging issues involving slavery, and the very nature of American democracy.
“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes…. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.”—Andrew Jackson, Veto Message Regarding the Bank of the United States, July 10, 1832
“I consider, then, the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.”—Andrew Jackson, Proclamation Regarding Nullification to the People of South Carolina, December 10, 1832
Civil rights legislation figured prominently in the agenda of Congress during the Civil War and Reconstruction. But as Reconstruction came to an end and discrimination against African Americans in the South became commonplace, civil rights advocates in Congress increasingly shifted to policies desired by white constituents in the North who had grown tired of efforts to legislate equality. In this book, the first of a two-volume set, Jeffery A. Jenkins and Justin Peck explore the rise and fall of civil rights legislation in Congress from 1861 to 1918.
The authors examine in detail how the Republican Party slowly withdrew its support for a meaningful civil rights agenda, as well as how Democrats and Republicans worked together to keep civil rights off the legislative agenda at various points. In doing so, Jenkins and Peck show how legal institutions can be used both to liberate and protect oppressed minorities and to assert the power of the white majority against those same minority groups.
Early in 1982 a group of lawmakers introduced into both houses of the U.S. Congress a resolution calling on the United States and the Soviet Union to negotiate a mutual and verifiable halt to the nuclear arms race. It was a bold measure and one that sparked intense debate between members of Congress and the White House over the conduct of U.S. arms control policy. This book is an inside account of that legislative battle, told by a congressional aide who was in the thick of it.
The American Civil War was the first military conflict in history to be fought with railroads moving troops and the telegraph connecting civilian leadership to commanders in the field. New developments arose at a moment’s notice. As a result, the young nation’s political structure and culture often struggled to keep up. When war began, Congress was not even in session. By the time it met, the government had mobilized over 100,000 soldiers, battles had been fought, casualties had been taken, some civilians had violently opposed the war effort, and emancipation was under way.
This set the stage for Congress to play catch-up for much of the conflict. The result was an ongoing race to pass new laws and set policies. Throughout it all, Congress had to answer to a fractured and demanding public. In addition, Congress, no longer paralyzed by large numbers of Southern slave owners, moved forward on progressive economic and social issues—such as the transcontinental railroad and the land grant college act—which could not previously have been passed.
In Congress and the People’s Contest, Paul Finkelman and Donald R. Kennon have assembled some of the nation’s finest scholars of American history and law to evaluate the interactions between Congress and the American people as they navigated a cataclysmic and unprecedented war. Displaying a variety and range of focus that will make the book a classroom must, these essays show how these interactions took place—sometimes successfully, and sometimes less so.
Contributors: L. Diane Barnes, Fergus M. Bordewich, Jenny Bourne, Jonathan Earle, Lesley J. Gordon, Mischa Honeck, Chandra Manning, Nikki M. Taylor, and Eric Walther.
Skillfully blending historical data with microeconomic theory, Glenn Parker argues that the incentives for congressional service have declined over the years, and that with that decline has come a change in the kind of person who seeks to enter Congress. The decline in the attractiveness of Congress is a consequence of congressional careerists and of the growth in the rent-seeking society, a term which describes the efforts of special interests to obtain preferential treatment by using the machinery of government--legislation and regulations.
Parker provides a fresh and controversial perspective to the debate surrounding the relative merits of career or amateur politicians. He argues that driving career politicians from office can have pernicious effects on the political system: it places the running of Congress in the hands of amateur politicians, who stand to lose little if they are found engaging in illegal or quasi-legal practices. On the other hand, career legislators risk all they have invested in their long careers in public service if they engage in unsavory practices. As Parker develops this controversial argument, he provides a fresh perspective on the debate surrounding the value of career versus amateur politicians.
Little attention has been given to the long-term impact of a rent-seeking society on the evolution of political institutions. Parker examines empirically and finds support for hypotheses that reflect potential symptoms of adverse selection in the composition of Congress: (1) rent-seeking politicians are more inclined than others to manipulate institutional arrangements for financial gain; (2) the rent-seeking milieu of legislators are more likely to engage in rent-seeking activity than earlier generations; (3) and the growth of rent-seeking activity has hastened the departure of career legislators.
Glenn R. Parker is Distinguished Research Professor, Florida State University.
After years of divided government, countless Republicans campaigned on a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Yet when they took control of both chambers of Congress and the White House in 2017—after six years that included more than fifty symbolic votes and innumerable pledges—they failed to repeal the bulk of the law. Pundits were shocked, and observers and political scientists alike were stuck looking for an explanation. What made Obamacare so hard to repeal? And in a larger sense: What explains why some laws are repealed, and yet others endure in spite of considerable efforts? Are repeals different from law-making or do they mirror one another? Why are repeals more likely at some times than others? What theories of legislative behavior and policymaking explain when repeals happen?
Congress in Reverse is the first book to attempt to answer these questions. Jordan M. Ragusa and Nathaniel A. Birkhead examine when and why existing statutes are successfully “undone,” arguing that repeals are most common when the parties are united on the issue—which was not the case when it came to Obamacare for the Republican Party—and the majority party wins control of Congress after a long stint in the minority. By shifting focus from the making of laws to their un-making, Congress in Reverse opens up a new arena for studying legislative activity in Congress.
This impressive collection of essays by many renowned scholars was compiled in honor of Richard F. Fenno's contribution to legislative studies. Utilizing various approaches to examine the impact of strategic behavior, rules, and institutions on legislative outcomes, this book produces significant new insights into legislative behavior. The themes that are constant in this volume and that reflect Richard F. Fenno's own treatment of the field are legislators as rational actors; the expectation that congressional rules, procedures, and institutions reflect the preferences and constraints faced by members of Congress; and viewing politics as politicians do.
The contributors are John Aldrich, Steve Balla, David Castle, Christine DeGregorio, Richard Delany, Diana Evans, Patrick Fett, Linda Fowler, Brian Frederking, Jeffrey Hill, Bryan Marshall, Brandon Prins, David Rohde, Wendy Schiller, Kenneth Shepsle, and John Wright.
William T. Bianco is Associate Professor of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University.
Congressional supervision of the way the executive implements legislative mandates-“oversight” of the bureaucracy-is one of the most complex and least understood functions of Congress. In this book, Morris Ogul clarifies the meaning of oversight and analyzes the elements that contribute to its success or neglect.
Ogul's work is based on case studies from nearly one hundred interviews with congressmen, committee staff members, lobbyists, and members of the executive branch., as well as an examination of relevant congressional documents.
Congress today is falling short. Fewer bills, worse oversight, and more dysfunction. But why? In a new volume of essays, the contributors investigate an underappreciated reason Congress is struggling: it doesn’t have the internal capacity to do what our constitutional system requires of it. Leading scholars chronicle the institutional decline of Congress and the decades-long neglect of its own internal investments in the knowledge and expertise necessary to perform as a first-rate legislature. Today’s legislators and congressional committees have fewer—and less expert and experienced—staff than the executive branch or K Street. This leaves them at the mercy of lobbyists and the administrative bureaucracy.
The essays in Congress Overwhelmed assess Congress’s declining capacity and explore ways to upgrade it. Some provide broad historical scope. Others evaluate the current decay and investigate how Congress manages despite the obstacles. Collectively, they undertake the most comprehensive, sophisticated appraisal of congressional capacity to date, and they offer a new analytical frame for thinking about—and improving—our underperforming first branch of government.
"Lipinski's impressive analysis of members' communications with constituents yields major insights about partisanship, effects on reelection prospects, and constituent evaluations."
--Bruce Oppenheimer, Vanderbilt University
"The communication between representatives and their constituents is where election strategy and policy explanations are merged and, until now, we have had only anecdotal evidence. Lipinski's book sheds light on this important part of American political life."
--David Brady, Stanford University
Congressional Communication challenges the notion that legislators "run against Congress" by routinely denigrating the institution. Using a unique, systematic analysis of the communication from members of Congress to their constituents over a five-year period, Daniel Lipinski challenges this notion, demonstrating key partisan differences in representatives' portrayals of congressional activities. While members of the majority party tend to report that the institution-and, hence, their party-is performing well, members of the minority party are more likely to accuse Congress of doing a poor job.
The findings in Congressional Communication offer the first strong empirical evidence from the electoral arena in support of controversial party government theories. Moving beyond previous studies that look only at legislators' messages, Lipinski's research also reveals the effects of these politically strategic claims on voters, whose interpretations don't necessarily bear out the legislators' intended effects.
Daniel Lipinski is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee.
Congress is a bicameral legislature in which both the House and Senate must pass a bill before it can be enacted into law. The US bicameral system also differs from most democracies in that the two chambers have relatively equal power to legislate and must find ways to resolve their disputes. In the current landscape of party polarization, this contentious process has become far more chaotic, leading to the public perception that the House and Senate are unwilling or unable to compromise and calling into question the effectiveness of the bicameral system itself.
With The Congressional Endgame, Josh M. Ryan offers a coherent explanation of how the bicameral legislative process works in Congress and shows that the types of policy outcomes it produces are in line with those intended by the framers of the Constitution. Although each bargaining outcome may seem idiosyncratic, the product of strong leadership and personality politics, interchamber bargaining outcomes in Congress are actually structured by observable institutional factors. Ryan finds that the characteristics of the winning coalition are critically important to which chamber “wins” after bargaining, with both conference committees and an alternative resolution venue, amendment trading, creating policy that approximates the preferences of the more moderate chamber. Although slow and incremental, interchamber negotiations serve their intended purpose well, The Congressional Endgame shows; they increase the odds of compromise while at the same time offering a powerful constraint on dramatic policy changes.
The Constitution in Congress series has been called nothing less than a biography of the US Constitution for its in-depth examination of the role that the legislative and executive branches have played in the development of constitutional interpretation. This third volume in the series, the early installments of which dealt with the Federalist and Jeffersonian eras, continues this examination with the Jacksonian revolution of 1829 and subsequent efforts by Democrats to dismantle Henry Clay’s celebrated “American System” of nationalist economics. David P. Currie covers the political events of the period leading up to the start of the Civil War, showing how the slavery question, although seldom overtly discussed in the debates included in this volume, underlies the Southern insistence on strict interpretation of federal powers.
Like its predecessors, The Constitution in Congress: Democrats and Whigs will be an invaluable reference for legal scholars and constitutional historians alike.
This acclaimed series serves as a biography of the U.S. Constitution, offering an indispensable survey of the congressional history behind its development. In a rare examination of the role that both the legislative and executive branches have played in the development of constitutional interpretation, The Constitution in Congress shows how the actions and proceedings of these branches reveal perhaps even more about constitutional disputes than Supreme Court decisions of the time.
The centerpiece for the fourth volume in this series is the great debate over slavery and how this divisive issue led the country into the maelstrom of the Civil War. From the Jacksonian revolution of 1829 to the secession of Southern states from the Union, legal scholar David P. Currie provides an unrivaled analysis of the significant constitutional events—the Wilmot Proviso, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, and "Bleeding Kansas"—that led up to the war. Exploring how slavery was addressed in presidential speeches and debated in Congress, Currie shows how the Southern Democrats dangerously diminished federal authority and expanded states' rights, threatening the nation's very survival.
Like its predecessors, this fourth volume of The Constitution in Congress will be an invaluable reference for legal scholars and constitutional historians alike.
In the most thorough examination to date, David P. Currie analyzes from a legal perspective the work of the first six congresses and of the executive branch during the Federalist era, with a view to its significance for constitutional interpretation. He concludes that the original understanding of the Constitution was forged not so much in the courts as in the legislative and executive branches, an argument of crucial importance for scholars in constitutional law, history, and government.
"A joy to read."—Appellate Practive Journal and Update
"[A] patient and exemplary analysis of the work of the first six Congresses."—Geoffrey Marshall, Times Literary Supplement
Because of the judicial branch's tremendous success in reviewing
legislative and executive action in the United States, legal scholars
have traditionally looked only to the courts for guidance in
interpreting the Constitution. This, the second book in David P.
Currie's multivolume series, looks to the legislative and executive
branches for insights into the development of constitutional
Currie examines the period of Republican hegemony from the
inauguration of Thomas Jefferson in 1801 to the election of Andrew
Jackson in 1829. During this time of great leadership and
controversy, many benchmark issues—the abolition of the new Circuit
Courts, the Louisiana Purchase, the Burr conspiracy, the War of 1812,
the Monroe Doctrine, and the Missouri Compromise, among others—were
debated and decided almost exclusively in the legislative and
executive arenas. With its uniquely legal perspective and
comprehensive coverage, The Constitution in Congress
illustrates how the executive and legislative branches matched the
Supreme Court in putting flesh and blood onto the skeleton of the
The admission of Missouri to the Union quickly became a constitutional crisis of the first order, inciting an intensive reexamination of the U.S. Constitution by the U.S. Congress. The heart of the question in need of resolution was whether that body possessed the authority to place conditions on a territory—in this instance Missouri—regarding restrictions on slavery—before its admittance to the Union.
The larger question with which the legislators grappled were the limits of the Constitution’s provisions granting Congress the authority to affect the institution of slavery—both where it already existed and where it could expand. The issue—what would come to be known as the Missouri Crisis—severely tested the still young republic and, some four decades later, would all but rend it asunder. This timely collection of original essays thoughtfully engages the intersections of history and constitutional law, and is certain to find eager readers among historians, legal scholars, political scientists, as well as many who call Missouri home.
William S. Belko
John R. Van Atta
Why do members of Congress resort to name-calling? In this provocative book, Eric M. Uslaner proposes that Congress is mirroring the increased incivility of American society. He points to five core values—American exceptionalism, enlightened individualism, egalitarianism, science as social engineering, and religion—that have been eroded since the 1960s. The author argues that a lack of trust permeates members of Congress to the point that they would rather seek control than compromise. This, Uslaner contends, is the real cause of gridlock in Washington. The Decline in Comity in Congress demonstrates why institutional reform will not correct this problem and why Americans need to change before their government can.
The task of deliberating public policy falls preeminently to Congress. But decisions on matters ranging from budget deficits to the war with Iraq, among others, raise serious doubts about its performance. In Deliberative Choices, Gary Mucciaroni and Paul J. Quirk assess congressional deliberation by analyzing debate on the House and Senate floors. Does debate genuinely inform members of Congress and the public? Or does it mostly mislead and manipulate them?
Mucciaroni and Quirk argue that in fashioning the claims they use in debate, legislators make a strategic trade-off between boosting their rhetorical force and ensuring their ability to withstand scrutiny. Using three case studies—welfare reform, repeal of the estate tax, and telecommunications deregulation—the authors show how legislators’ varying responses to such a trade-off shape the issues they focus on, the claims they make, and the information they provide in support of those claims.
Mucciaroni and Quirk conclude that congressional debate generally is only moderately realistic and informed. It often trades in half-truths, omissions, and sometimes even outright falsehoods. Yet some debates are highly informative. Moreover, the authors believe it’s possible to improve congressional deliberation, and they recommend reforms designed to do so.
What if there were more women in Congress? Providing the first comprehensive study of the policy activity of male and female legislators at the federal level, Michele L. Swers persuasively demonstrates that, even though representatives often vote a party line, their gender is politically significant and does indeed influence policy making.
Swers combines quantitative analyses of bills with interviews with legislators and their staff to compare legislative activity on women's issues by male and female members of the House of Representatives during the 103rd (1993-94) and 104th (1995-96) Congresses. Tracking representatives' commitment to women's issues throughout the legislative process, from the introduction of bills through committee consideration to final floor votes, Swers examines how the prevailing political context and members' positions within Congress affect whether and how aggressively they pursue women's issues.
Anyone studying congressional behavior, the role of women, or the representation of social identities in Congress will benefit from Swers's balanced and nuanced analysis.
Doing the Right Thing examines the use of extraordinary legislative procedures in four cases in the U.S. Congress to accomplish policy objectives that many political scientists would argue are impossible to achieve. It not only shows that Congress is capable of imposing parochial costs in favor of general benefits but it argues that Congress is able to do so in a variety of policy areas through the use of very different kinds of procedural mechanisms that are underappreciated.
The book opens by developing a theory of procedural choice to explain why Congress chooses to delegate in differing degrees in dealing with similar kinds of policy problems. The theory is then applied to four narrative case studies—military base closures, the Yucca Mountain Project, NAFTA, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986—that both show the variety of factors that impact procedural choice and highlight how our national legislature was able to “do the right thing.”
The book concludes by pointing to the variety of ways in which Congress will be confronted with similar policy problems in the coming years and offering some lessons from these cases about what kinds of procedures and policy outcomes we might expect. In short, Congress is remarkably adept at “doing the right thing,” even under difficult circumstances, but only when legislators are willing to manipulate procedures in all the necessary ways.
Electoral Incentives in Congress
Jamie L. Carson and Joel Sievert University of Michigan Press, 2018 Library of Congress JK1021.C368 2018 | Dewey Decimal 324.97305
David Mayhew’s 1974 thesis on the “electoral connection” and its impact on legislative behavior is the theoretical foundation for research on the modern U.S. Congress. Mayhew contends that once in office, legislators pursue the actions that put them in the best position for reelection. Carson and Sievert examine how electoral incentives shaped legislative behavior throughout the nineteenth century by looking at patterns of turnover in Congress; the renomination of candidates; the roles of parties in recruiting candidates and their broader effects on candidate competition; and, finally by examining legislators’ accountability. The results have wide-ranging implications for the evolution of Congress and the development of legislative institutions over time.
Voters simultaneously choose among candidates running for different offices, with different terms, and occupying different places in the Constitutional order. Conventional wisdom holds that these overlapping institutional differences make comparative electoral research difficult, if not impossible. Paul Gronke's path-breaking study compares electoral contexts, campaigns, and voter decision-making in House and Senate elections. Gronke's book offers new insights into how differences--and similarities--across offices structure American elections.
Congressional elections research holds that Senate races are more competitive than House contests because states are more heterogeneous, or because candidates are more prominent and raise more money, or because voters have fundamentally different expectations. Because House and Senate contests are seldom compared, we have little empirical evidence to test the various hypotheses about how voters make choices for different offices. Gronke finds that the similarities between House and Senate elections are much greater than previously thought and that voters make their decisions in both races on the same bases.
Gronke first looks at differences in congressional districts and states, showing that context does not really help us understand why Senate elections feature better candidates, higher spending, and closer outcomes. Next, he turns to campaigns. Surprisingly, over a turbulent twenty-year period, House and Senate candidacies have retained the same competitive dynamics.
Gronke also considers voting behavior in House and Senate elections. Focusing on the 1988 and 1990 elections, he argues that voters do not distinguish between institutions, applying fundamentally the same decision rule, regardless of the office being contested. Gronke closes by considering the implications of his results for the way we relate settings, electoral dynamics, and institutional arrangements.
This book will appeal to those interested in Congress, political campaigning, and voting.
Paul Gronke is Associate Professor of Political Science at Reed College.
The social changes and human and economic costs of the Civil War led to profound legal and constitutional developments after it ended, not least of which were the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and the many laws devised to protect the civil rights of newly freed African Americans. These amendments and laws worked for a while, but they were ineffective or ineffectively enforced for more than a century.
In Ending the Civil War and the Consequences for Congress, contributors explore how the end of the war both continued the trauma of the conflict and enhanced the potential for the new birth of freedom that Lincoln promised in the Gettysburg Address. Collectively, they bring their multidisciplinary expertise to bear on the legal, economic, social, and political aspects of the aftermath of the war and Reconstruction era. The book concludes with the reminder of how the meaning of the war has changed over time. The Civil War is no longer the “felt” history it once was, Clay Risen reminds us, and despite the work of many fine scholars it remains contested.
Contributors: Jenny Bourne, Carole Emberton, Paul Finkelman, Lorien Foote, William E. Nelson, Clay Risen, Anne Sarah Rubin, and Peter Wallenstein
Establishing Congress: The Removal to Washington, D.C., and the Election of 1800 focuses on the end of the 1790s, when, in rapid succession, George Washington died, the federal government moved to Washington, D.C., and the election of 1800 put Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party in charge of the federal government.
Establishing Congress dispels the myths and misinformation that surround the federal government’s move to Washington and demonstrates that the election of 1800 changed American party politics forever, establishing the success of the American experiment in government and completing the founding of the Republic. It also contends that the lame-duck session of Congress had far-reaching implications for the governance of the District of Columbia. Later chapters examine aspects of the political iconography of the Capitol—one illuminating Jefferson’s role in turning the building into a temple for the legislature and an instrument for nation-building, another analyzing the fascinating decades-long debate over whether to bury George Washington in the Capitol.
The book considers as well the political implications of social life in early Washington, examining the political lobbying by Washington women within a social context and detailing the social and political life in the city’s homes, hotels, boardinghouses, and eating messes. Establishing Congress is an invaluable reference work for anyone interested in these pivotal moments in American history.
The institutional development of American legislatures, beginning with the first colonial assembly of 1619, has been marked by continuity as well as change. Peverill Squire draws upon a wealth of primary sources to document this institutional history. Beginning with the ways in which colonial assemblies followed the precedents of British institutions, Squire traces the fundamental ways they evolved to become distinct. He next charts the formation of the first state legislatures and the Constitutional Congress, describes the creation of territorial and new state legislatures, and examines the institutionalization of state legislatures in the nineteenth century and their professionalization since 1900.
With his conclusion, Squire discusses the historical trajectory of American legislatures and suggests how they might further develop over the coming decades. While Squire's approach will appeal to historians, his focus on the evolution of rules, procedures, and standing committee systems, as well as member salaries, legislative sessions, staff, and facilities, will be valuable to political scientists and legislative scholars.
The United States Congress is often viewed as the world's most powerful national legislature. To what extent does it serve as a model for other legislative assemblies around the globe? In Exporting Congress? distinguished scholars of comparative legislatures analyze how Congress has influenced elected assemblies in both advanced and transitional democracies. They reveal the barriers to legislative diffusion, the conditions that favor Congress as a model, and the rival institutional influences on legislative development around the world.
Exporting Congress? examines the conditions for the diffusion, selective imitation, and contingent utility of congressional institutions and practices in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, the European Parliament, and the new democracies in Latin America and Eastern Europe. These scholars find that diffusion is highly sensitive to history, geography, and other contextual factors, especially the structure of political institutions and the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches. Editors Timothy Power and Nicol Rae place the volume's empirical findings in theoretical, comparative, and historical perspective, and establish a dialogue between the separate subfields of congressional studies and comparative legislatures through the concept of legislative diffusion.
The advantage incumbent members of Congress hold over their opponents in campaigns for office has steadily grown over the past five decades. While students of congressional politics have analyzed the effect of this advantage on members' behavior in office, little is known of its effect on their opponents. Sitting members of the House frequently face underfinanced and obscure challengers. Conventional theories of electoral competition assume that the only hope those candidates have of even coming close to making such an election competitive is to align their policy positions as closely as possible to those of the median voter. Yet challengers to incumbents often run on quite extreme position platforms. In the majority of these uncompetitive races, Robert G. Boatright explains, a new type of politics is emerging—a politics of expressive campaigning, where challengers seek to use their campaigns as a platform for their own views and as a means of helping their party achieve goals other than winning the election at hand.
This research makes two types of contributions to existing political science literature. On a theoretical level, it argues for a reconceptualization of the motives of candidates and parties in rational choice analysis. On a practical level, it seeks to enrich our understanding of the role that challengers play in American elections and of the reason why different types of challengers emerge in different types of elections. Boatright argues that the role of challengers in the American electoral process can be understood only if we broaden our theories about rational candidate behavior.
In the modern Congress, one of the highest hurdles for major bills or nominations is gaining the sixty votes necessary to shut off a filibuster in the Senate. But this wasn’t always the case. Both citizens and scholars tend to think of the legislative process as a game played by the rules in which votes are the critical commodity—the side that has the most votes wins. In this comprehensive volume,Gregory Koger shows, on the contrary, that filibustering is a game with slippery rules in which legislators who think fast and try hard can triumph over superior numbers.
Filibustering explains how and why obstruction has been institutionalized in the U.S. Senate over the last fifty years, and how this transformation affects politics and policymaking. Koger also traces the lively history of filibustering in the U.S. House during the nineteenth century and measures the effects of filibustering—bills killed, compromises struck, and new issues raised by obstruction. Unparalleled in the depth of its theory and its combination of historical and political analysis, Filibustering will be the definitive study of its subject for years to come.
The House and the Senate floors are the only legislative forums where all members of the U.S. Congress participate and each has a vote. Andrew J. Taylor explores why floor power and floor rights in the House are more restricted than in the Senate and how these restrictions affect the legislative process. After tracing the historical development of floor rules, Taylor assesses how well they facilitate a democratic legislative process—that is, how well they facilitate deliberation, transparency, and widespread participation.
Taylor not only compares floor proceedings between the Senate and the House in recent decades; he also compares recent congressional proceedings with antebellum proceedings. This unique, systematic analysis reveals that the Senate is generally more democratic than the House—a somewhat surprising result, given that the House is usually considered the more representative and responsive of the two. Taylor concludes with recommendations for practical reforms designed to make floor debates more robust and foster representative democracy.
Foreign Policy Advocacy and Entrepreneurship shows how new and dynamic leaders in Congress are becoming highly influential in policymaking. Capturing the spirit of change in Washington, DC, it explores original case studies of eight US policymakers who challenged authority during the Obama administration—from war veterans and fundamentalist Christian activists to former spies and minority legislators. Newly elected representatives in both parties dove into issues that sometimes seemed well beyond the interests of their constituents and that defied their own party leadership. Setting the course for a new generation of lawmakers, junior entrepreneurs studied here employed a combination of formal legislative strategies for successful influence and informal networking, policy narratives, and communication strategies. While some congressional initiatives have succeeded in changing US foreign policy and others have failed, committed entrepreneurs appear to be gaining greater influence over US foreign policy in the polarized atmosphere of Washington, DC.
Cases of entrepreneurship by junior members of Congress represent a puzzle for traditional foreign policy studies that focus on seniority, party discipline, and rigid institutional systems on Capitol Hill. By melding entrepreneurship and policy advocacy literature, this book advances a new typology of foreign policy entrepreneurship, recognizing the impact of multidimensional strategies of influence. The arrival of new members of the 116th Congress, the most diverse in history, provides an exciting laboratory to further test these propositions.
In the traditional view of foreign policy making in the United States, the President is considered the primary authority and Congress is seen as playing a subsidiary role. Marie T. Henehan looks at the effects of events in the international system on both the content of foreign policy and what actions Congress takes on foreign policy. Henehan argues that the only way to understand the way congressional behavior varies over time is by looking at the rise and resolution of critical issues in foreign policy, which in turn have their origin in the international system. When a critical foreign policy issue arises, congressional activity and attempts to influence foreign policy increase. Once the debate is resolved and one side wins, a consensus emerges and Congress settles into a more passive role. Using a data set consisting of all roll call votes on foreign policy issues taken by the Senate from 1897 to 1984 to generate indicators of Congressional behavior, together with the rise and fall of critical issues in international relations, Henehan is able to develop a more nuanced understanding of Congress's role in foreign policy making over time.
In recent years political scientists have begun to consider the impact of the international system on domestic policy. Part of the difficulty of some of this work, as well as work on Congress's role in foreign policy, is that it has been limited in terms of time and the number of events the analysis considered, depending on case studies. This book offers a systematic consideration of the effects of international events on domestic politics, crossing many different kinds of international activity, and provides a unique longitudinal view of Congressional action on foreign policy.
This book will be of interest to scholars of international relations, American foreign policy making, and Congress.
Marie T. Henehan is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Vanderbilt University.
In From Inclusion to Influence, Walter Wilson addresses urgent questions regarding the political incorporation of Latinos in America. First, he demonstrates that Latino representatives in the U.S. Congress do, in fact, represent Latino interests more effectively than do other representatives, both by serving as conduits connecting fellow Latinos to the government and by introducing their concerns into the legislative process. Then, moving beyond the debate about descriptive and substantive representation, Wilson identifies the ways in which the efforts of Latinos in Congress enable the meaningful inclusion of Latinos in politics, foster the ability of Latinos to shape public policy, and ultimately promote democracy in an increasingly diverse nation.
Each of the past few election cycles has featured at least one instance of "primarying," a challenge to an incumbent on the grounds that he or she is not sufficiently partisan. For many observers, such races signify an increasingly polarized electorate and an increasing threat to moderates of both parties.
In Getting Primaried, Robert G. Boatright shows that primary challenges are not becoming more frequent; they wax and wane in accordance with partisan turnover in Congress. The recent rise of primarying corresponds to the rise of national fundraising bases and new types of partisan organizations supporting candidates around the country. National fundraising efforts and interest group–supported primary challenges have garnered media attention disproportionate to their success in winning elections. Such challenges can work only if groups focus on a small number of incumbents.
Getting Primaried makes several key contributions to congressional scholarship. It presents a history of congressional primary challenges over the past forty years, measuring the frequency of competitive challenges and distinguishing among types of challenges. It provides a correction to accounts of the link between primary competition and political polarization. Further, this study offers a new theoretical understanding of the role of interest groups in congressional elections.
Thirty years ago there were nine African Americans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Today there are four times that number. In Going Home, the dean of congressional studies, Richard F. Fenno, explores what representation has meant—and means today—to black voters and to the politicians they have elected to office.
Fenno follows the careers of four black representatives—Louis Stokes, Barbara Jordan, Chaka Fattah, and Stephanie Tubbs Jones—from their home districts to the halls of the Capitol. He finds that while these politicians had different visions of how they should represent their districts (in part based on their individual preferences, and in part based on the history of black politics in America), they shared crucial organizational and symbolic connections to their constituents. These connections, which draw on a sense of "linked fates," are ones that only black representatives can provide to black constituents.
His detailed portraits and incisive analyses will be important for anyone interested in the workings of Congress or in black politics.
Richard Fenno first coined the term home style to describe the ways in which members of Congress cultivate the voters of their home constituencies. He suggested that incumbents were paying more attention to their constituents than they had in the past. In this book, Glenn Parker examines the relationship between activities at home and in Washington, asking specifically: Why and when did congressmen and senators begin to pay more attention to their constituents? And what are the institutional consequences of this change?
Using data drawn from the travel vouchers filed by incumbent senators and congressmen between 1959 and 1980, Parker shows that since the mid-1960s incumbents have been placing greater emphasis on service to their state or district. Congress has facilitated this change in various ways, such as by increasing travel allowances and by scheduling that minimizes the conflict between legislative business in Washington and time spent with constituents.
Parker's study includes both the Senate and House, and he draws distinctions between the home-style behaviors of senators and representatives. He also provides a historical context for understanding the dynamics of changes in home style. The time-series data generate explanations that specify relationships among historical conditions, individual behavior, and institutional structures.
Horses In Midstream
Andrew E Busch University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999 Library of Congress JK1976.B85 1999 | Dewey Decimal 324.973092
Horses in Midstream breaks the mold of midterm election literature by focusing on the consequences of midterm elections rather than on the causes of the anti-administration pattern of those elections. The book concludes that the midterm pattern has two primary consequences: it stymies the President and provides an opportunity for the revitalization of the opposition party—and that numerical losses by the President's party is really only a small part of the equation. Consequently, midterm elections can be considered an additional check in the U.S. political system, acting as a mechanism that helps to assure rough two party balance.
In examining the historical results from midterm elections dating back to 1894 and extending to the surprising result of 1994 and 1998, Busch has uncovered seven consistent ways in which the president and his party are harmed by midterm elections. These elections unfavorably alter the composition of congress, both between the parties and within the President's own party; they deprive the President of the plebiscitary power derived from his original electoral mandate; they give an intangible sense of momentum to the opposition party, leading to renewed opportunities for the opposition to put forward new leaders and to develop winning issues; they exacerbate splits within the President's own party; and they provide the opposition party with expanded party-building opportunities at the state level. Busch also places the midterm elections into four categories: "preparatory" midterms, which contribute to a subsequent change in party control of the Presidency; "calibrating" midterms in which voters slow but do not reverse extraordinary periods of Presidentially-driven change; "normal" midterms when midterm elections stymie the President without contributing to a White House takeover; and the rare "creative exceptions" when an administration escapes the midterm curse at the polls and find themselves invigorated rather than weakened. Busch's new approach to midterm elections, his well supported conclusions, and his clear, consistent style will certainly be of interest to political scientists and will translate well to the classroom.
Amid the turbulent swirl of foreign intrigue, external and internal threats to the young nation’s existence, and the domestic partisan wrangling of the 1790s, the United States Congress solidified its role as the national legislature. The ten essays in The House and Senate in the 1790s demonstrate the mechanisms by which this bicameral legislature developed its institutional identity. The first essay sets the scene for the institutional development of Congress by examining its constitutional origins and the efforts of the Founders to empower the new national legislature. The five following essays focus on two related mechanisms—petitioning and lobbying—by which citizens and private interests communicated with national lawmakers.
Although scholars tend to see lobbying as a later nineteenth-century development, the papers presented here clearly demonstrate the existence of lobbyists and lobbying in the 1790s. The final four papers examine other aspects of the institutional development of the House and the Senate, including the evolution of political parties and congressional leadership.
The essays in this collection, the third volume in the series Perspectives on the History of Congress, 1789-1801, originated in a series of conferences held by the United States Capitol Historical Society from 1994 to 2001.
Few images of early America were more striking, and jarring, than that of slaves in the capital city of the world’s most important free republic. Black slaves served and sustained the legislators, bureaucrats, jurists, cabinet officials, military leaders, and even the presidents who lived and worked there. While slaves quietly kept the nation’s capital running smoothly, lawmakers debated the place of slavery in the nation, the status of slavery in the territories newly acquired from Mexico, and even the legality of the slave trade in itself.
This volume, with essays by some of the most distinguished historians in the nation, explores the twin issues of how slavery made life possible in the District of Columbia and how lawmakers in the district regulated slavery in the nation.
Contributors: David Brion Davis, Mary Beth Corrigan, A. Glenn Crothers, Jonathan Earle, Stanley Harrold, Mitch Kachun, Mary K. Ricks, James B. Stewart, Susan Zaeske, David Zarefsky
In this controversial book, Keith Krehbiel investigates and casts doubt upon a view of Congress held by many academics, journalists, and members of the lay public: that Congress is organized primarily to facilitate logrolling or "gains from trade" between legislators. The author puts forward an alternative "informational" theory that, unlike previous formal theories, highlights institutional needs and individual incentives for acquiring policy expertise. Using games with incomplete information, Krehbiel derives a set of unique and testable predictions about the organization of legislatures -- including the composition of committees and the procedures under which legislation is considered.
Krehbiel's creative illustrations and nonmathematical presentation of formal theories make this book accessible to a diverse set of readers. The political relevance and testability of games with incomplete information will be appreciated by game theorists and economists, while the book's findings make it essential reading for political scientists who study American politics, political institutions, or democratic legislatures.
As Democrats and Republicans continue to vie for political advantage, Congress remains paralyzed by partisan conflict. That the last two decades have seen some of the least productive Congresses in recent history is usually explained by the growing ideological gulf between the parties, but this explanation misses another fundamental factor influencing the dynamic. In contrast to politics through most of the twentieth century, the contemporary Democratic and Republican parties compete for control of Congress at relative parity, and this has dramatically changed the parties’ incentives and strategies in ways that have driven the contentious partisanship characteristic of contemporary American politics.
With Insecure Majorities, Frances E. Lee offers a controversial new perspective on the rise of congressional party conflict, showing how the shift in competitive circumstances has had a profound impact on how Democrats and Republicans interact. For nearly half a century, Democrats were the majority party, usually maintaining control of the presidency, the House, and the Senate. Republicans did not stand much chance of winning majority status, and Democrats could not conceive of losing it. Under such uncompetitive conditions, scant collective action was exerted by either party toward building or preserving a majority. Beginning in the 1980s, that changed, and most elections since have offered the prospect of a change of party control. Lee shows, through an impressive range of interviews and analysis, how competition for control of the government drives members of both parties to participate in actions that promote their own party’s image and undercut that of the opposition, including the perpetual hunt for issues that can score political points by putting the opposing party on the wrong side of public opinion. More often than not, this strategy stands in the way of productive bipartisan cooperation—and it is also unlikely to change as long as control of the government remains within reach for both parties.
On March 4, 1789, New York City's church bells pealed, cannons fired, and flags snapped in the wind to celebrate the date set for the opening of the First Federal Congress. In many ways the establishment of Congress marked the culmination of the American Revolution as the ship of state was launched from the foundation of the legislative system outlined in Article I of the Constitution.
Inventing Congress presents the latest scholarship on the interrelated intellectual, institutional, cultural, and political antecedents of the formation of the First Federal Congress. The first section covers the origins of the body, ranging in discussion from the question of how the founders' understanding of classical Greek and Roman republican precedent shaped their thinking, to the political lessons learned during the Continental and Confederation Congresses.
The second section concerns itself with the establishment of the First Federal Congress, examining several heretofore little-treated aspects of the most important Congress in history, including its relationship to the press, morality, the arts and sciences, and economic philosophy.
Inventing Congress represents the papers from the first two conferences sponsored by the United States Capitol Historical Society in its series, “Perspectives on the History of Congress, 1789-1801.”
La Follette Insurgent Spirit
David P. Thelen University of Wisconsin Press, 1986 Library of Congress E664.L16T52 1985 | Dewey Decimal 973.910924
Robert M. La Follette and the Insurgent Spirit is a closely argued, lively, and readable biography of the central figure in the American Progressive movement. Wisconsin's “Fighting Bob” La Follette embodied the heart of Progressive sentiment and principle. He was a powerful force in shaping national political events between the eras of Populism and the New Deal
In giving President Obama a record level of support (75 percent) and reaching a watershed 10 percent of the voting population, Latinos proved to be decisive in the 2012 election outcome—an unprecedented mark of influence for this segment of the wider electorate. This shift also signaled a radical reenvisioning of mobilization strategies by both parties and created a sea change in the way political organizations conduct outreach and engagement efforts. In this groundbreaking volume, experts in Latino politics ask: What is the scope of Latino voter influence, where does this electorate have the greatest impact, and what issues matter to them most? They examine a key national discussion—immigration reform—as it relates to voter behavior, and also explore the influence of Latinos within key states, including California, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Nevada, and Florida. While some of these states have traditionally had strong Latino voting blocs, in others Latinos are just emerging as major players electorally. The book also discusses the extent to which Latinos were mobilized during the 2012 campaign and analyzes election outcomes using new tools created by Latino Decisions. A blend of rigorous data analysis and organizational commentary, the book offers a variety of perspectives on the past, present, and future of the Latino electorate.
The 2016 election saw more Latino votes than the record voter turnout of the 2012 election. The essays in this volume provide a highly detailed analysis of the state and national impact Latino voters had in what will be remembered as one of the biggest surprises in presidential election history. Contrary to much commentary, Latino voters increased their participation rates in all states beyond the supposed peak levels that they attained in 2012. Moreover, they again displayed their overwhelming support of Democratic candidates and even improved their Democratic support in Florida. Nonetheless, their continued presence and participation in national elections was not sufficient to prevent the election of Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate who vilified Latinos and especially Latino immigrants. Each essay provides insights as to how these two competing realities coexist, while the conclusion addresses the implications of this coexistence for the future of Latinos in American politics.
William Bernhard and Tracy Sulkin University of Chicago Press, 2018 Library of Congress JK1083.B47 2018 | Dewey Decimal 331.76132873
Once elected, members of Congress face difficult decisions about how to allocate their time and effort. On which issues should they focus? What is the right balance between working in one’s district and on Capitol Hill? How much should they engage with the media to cultivate a national reputation? William Bernhard and Tracy Sulkin argue that these decisions and others define a “legislative style” that aligns with a legislator’s ambitions, experiences, and personal inclinations, as well as any significant electoral and institutional constraints.
Bernhard and Sulkin have developed a systematic approach for looking at legislative style through a variety of criteria, including the number of the bills passed, number of speeches given, amount of money raised, and the percentage of time a legislator voted in line with his or her party. Applying this to ten congresses, representing twenty years of congressional data, from 1989 to 2009, they reveal that legislators’ activity falls within five predictable styles. These styles remain relatively consistent throughout legislators’ time in office, though a legislator’s style can change as career goals evolve, as well as with changes to individual or larger political interests, as in redistricting or a majority shift. Offering insight into a number of enduring questions in legislative politics, Legislative Style is a rich and nuanced account of legislators’ activity on Capitol Hill.
Focusing on cases involving major military action, foreign aid authorization, and key controversial votes in both legislative branches, Hinckley shows that—appearances to the contrary—Congress more often than not votes with the President, and has done so for the last few decades. Despite occasional flurries of activity on carefully chosen symbolic issues, most foreign policy issues never even make the Congressional agenda. Those that do are often dispatched with demands for reports that are left unread or with tough restrictions having built-in "escape provisions." Both branches, Hinckley argues, encourage this image of conflict and profit from the symbolic political capital it produces. This process comes to light in her analysis of aid to Nicaragua.
What Hinckley reveals is sharply at odds with conventional wisdom and unflattering to both the executive and the legislative branches of government. More than a critical reassessment, this book also proposes reforms than might result in real congressional participation in the making of foreign policy. With its insight into how our system of checks and balances works—and doesn't—this book takes a first step toward making the peoples' representatives accountable for crucial American interests in foreign matters.
To many observers, Congress has become a deeply partisan institution where ideologically-distinct political parties do little more than engage in legislative trench warfare. A zero-sum, winner-take-all approach to congressional politics has replaced the bipartisan comity of past eras. If the parties cannot get everything they want in national policymaking, then they prefer gridlock and stalemate to compromise. Or, at least, that is the conventional wisdom.
In The Limits of Party, James M. Curry and Frances E. Lee challenge this conventional wisdom. By constructing legislative histories of congressional majority parties’ attempts to enact their policy agendas in every congress since the 1980s and by drawing on interviews with Washington insiders, the authors analyze the successes and failures of congressional parties to enact their legislative agendas.
Their conclusions will surprise many congressional observers: Even in our time of intense party polarization, bipartisanship remains the key to legislative success on Capitol Hill. Congressional majority parties today are neither more nor less successful at enacting their partisan agendas. They are not more likely to ram though partisan laws or become mired in stalemate. Rather, the parties continue to build bipartisan coalitions for their legislative priorities and typically compromise on their original visions for legislation in order to achieve legislative success.
Lincoln and Congress
William C. Harris Southern Illinois University Press, 2017 Library of Congress E459.H294 2017 | Dewey Decimal 973.7092
Winner, ISHS Annual Award for a Scholarly Publication, 2018
In Lincoln and Congress, William C. Harris reveals that the relationship between the president and Congress, though sometimes contentious, was cooperative rather than adversarial. During his time as president, Abraham Lincoln embodied his personal conviction that the nation’s executive should not interfere with the work of the legislature, and though often critical of him privately, in public congressional leaders compromised with and assisted the president to unite the North and minimize opposition to the war.
Despite the turbulence of the era and the consequent tensions within the government, the executive and legislative branches showed restraint in their dealings with each other. In fact, except in his official messages to Congress, Lincoln rarely lobbied for congressional action, and he vetoed only one important measure during his tenure as president. Many congressmen from Lincoln’s own party, although publicly supportive, doubted his leadership and sought a larger role for Congress in setting war policies. Though they controlled Congress, Republican legislators frequently differed among themselves in shaping legislation and in their reactions to events as well as in their relationships both with each other and with the president. Harris draws intriguing sketches of nineteenth-century congressional leaders and shows that, contrary to what historians have traditionally concluded, radical Republicans such as Representative Thaddeus Stevens and Senator Charles Sumner did not dominate their party or Congress. Harris includes the minority party’s role, showing that Northern Democrats and conservative Unionists of the border states generally opposed Republican policies but worked with them on support for the troops and on nonwar issues like the Pacific Railroad Bill.
Lincoln and Congress sheds new light on the influence of members of Congress and their relationship with Lincoln on divisive issues such as military affairs, finance, slavery, constitutional rights, reconstruction, and Northern political developments. Enjoyable both for casual Civil War readers and professional historians, this book provides an engaging narrative that helps readers redefine and understand the political partnership that helped the Union survive.
The Logic of Delegation
D. Roderick Kiewiet and Mathew D. McCubbins University of Chicago Press, 1991 Library of Congress JK1029.K54 1991 | Dewey Decimal 328.730769
Why do majority congressional parties seem unable to act as an effective policy-making force? They routinely delegate their power to others—internally to standing committees and subcommittees within each chamber, externally to the president and to the bureaucracy. Conventional wisdom in political science insists that such delegation leads inevitably to abdication—usually by degrees, sometimes precipitously, but always completely.
In The Logic of Delegation, however, D. Roderick Kiewiet and Mathew D. McCubbins persuasively argue that political scientists have paid far too much attention to what congressional parties can't do. The authors draw on economic and management theory to demonstrate that the effectiveness of delegation is determined not by how much authority is delegated but rather by how well it is delegated.
In the context of the appropriations process, the authors show how congressional parties employ committees, subcommittees, and executive agencies to accomplish policy goals. This innovative study will force a complete rethinking of classic issues in American politics: the "autonomy" of congressional committees; the reality of runaway federal bureaucracy; and the supposed dominance of the presidency in legislative-executive relations.
In recent years, many Americans and more than a few political scientists have come to believe that democratic deliberation in Congress—whereby judgments are made on the merits of policies reflecting the interests and desires of American citizens—is more myth than reality. Rather, pressure from special interest groups, legislative bargaining, and the desire of incumbents to be reelected are thought to originate in American legislative politics. While not denying such influences, Joseph M. Bessette argues that the institutional framework created by the founding fathers continues to foster a government that is both democratic and deliberative, at least to some important degree.
Drawing on original research, case studies of policymaking in Congress, and portraits of American lawmakers, Bessette demonstrates not only the limitations of nondeliberative explanations for how laws are made but also the continued vitality of genuine reasoning on the merits of public policy. Bessette discusses the contributions of the executive branch to policy deliberation, and looks at the controversial issue of the proper relationship of public opinion to policymaking.
Informed by Bessette's nine years of public service in city and federal government, The Mild Voice of Reason offers important insights into the real workings of American democracy, articulates a set of standards by which to assess the workings of our governing institutions, and clarifies the forces that promote or inhibit the collective reasoning about common goals so necessary to the success of American democracy.
"No doubt the best-publicized recent book-length work on Congress is columnist George Will's diatribe in praise of term limits in which the core of his complaint is that Congress does not deliberate in its decision-making. Readers who are inclined to share that fantasy would do well to consult the work of Joseph M. Bessette. He turns up massive amounts of material attesting to the centrality of deliberation in congressional life."—Nelson W. Polsby, Presidential Studies Quarterly
This study of the influence minority parties wield is both a major work of political science scholarship and a timely examination of an issue with real consequences for the functioning of democratic legislatures and the creation of legislation.
Challenging conventional assumptions that the majority party dominates the legislature, Jennifer Hayes Clark investigates precisely the ways in which—and under what conditions—members of the minority party successfully pursue their interests. For this study, Clark collects fine-grained data from both the U.S. Congress and state legislatures to get a close look at three key points in the legislative process: committee assignments, bill cosponsorship, and roll-call votes. She finds that minority party members are not systematically excluded throughout the policymaking process. Indeed, their capacity to shape legislative decision-making is enhanced when party polarization is low, when institutional prerogatives are broadly dispersed rather than centralized, and when staff resources are limited. Under these conditions, bipartisanship bill cosponsorship and voting coalitions are also more prevalent.
With the sharp increase of partisan polarization in state legislatures and in Congress, it is essential to understand how and when a minority party can effectively represent constituents.
This book examines the role of minority party status on politicians’ engagement in electoral politics. Jacob Smith argues that politicians are more likely to be engaged in electoral politics when they expect their party to be in the majority in Congress after the next election and less likely when they anticipate their party will be in the minority. This effect is particularly likely to hold true in recent decades where parties disagree on a substantial number of issues. Politicians whose party will be in the majority have a clear incentive to engage in electoral politics because their preferred policies have a credible chance of passing if they are in the majority. In contrast, it is generally difficult for minority party lawmakers to get a hearing on—much less advance—their preferred policies, particularly when institutional rules inside Congress favor the majority party. Instead, minority party lawmakers spend most of their time fighting losing battles against policy proposals from the majority party. Minority Party Misery examines the consequences of the powerlessness that politicians feel from continually losing battles to the majority party in Congress. Its findings have important consequences for democratic governance, as highly qualified minority party politicians may choose to leave office due to their dismal circumstances rather than continue to serve until their party eventually reenters the majority.
Victoria Nourse argues that lawyers must be educated on the basic procedures that define how Congress operates today. Lawmaking creates winners and losers. If lawyers and judges do not understand this, they may embrace the meanings of those who opposed legislation, turning legislative losers into judicial winners and standing democracy on its head.
Whatever you think about the widening divide between Democrats and Republicans, ideological differences do not explain why politicians from the same parties, who share the same goals and policy preferences, often argue fiercely about how best to attain them. This perplexing misalignment suggests that we are missing an important piece of the puzzle. Political scientists have increasingly drawn on the relationship between voters’ personalities and political orientation, but there has been little empirically grounded research looking at how legislators’ personalities influence their performance on Capitol Hill.
With More Than a Feeling, Adam J. Ramey, Jonathan D. Klingler, and Gary E. Hollibaugh, Jr. have developed an innovative framework incorporating what are known as the Big Five dimensions of personality—openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism—to improve our understanding of political behavior among members of Congress. To determine how strongly individuals display these traits, the authors identified correlates across a wealth of data, including speeches, campaign contributions and expenditures, committee involvement, willingness to filibuster, and even Twitter feeds. They then show how we might expect to see the influence of these traits across all aspects of Congress members’ political behavior—from the type and quantity of legislation they sponsor and their style of communication to whether they decide to run again or seek a higher office. They also argue convincingly that the types of personalities that have come to dominate Capitol Hill in recent years may be contributing to a lot of the gridlock and frustration plaguing the American political system.
Scholars today take for granted the existence of a “wall of separation” dividing the three branches of the federal government. Neither Separate nor Equal: Congress in the 1790s demonstrates that such lines of separation among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, however, were neither so clearly delineated nor observed in the first decade of the federal government's history.
The first two essays describe the social and cultural milieu attending the movement of the republican court from New York to Philadelphia and the physical and social environment of Philadelphia in the 1790s. The following section examines the congressional career of New York's Egbert Benson, the senatorial career of Robert Morris as an expression of his economic interests, the vigorous opposition of Rep. William Branch Giles to the Federalist policies of the Washington administration, and finally the underappreciated role of congressional spouses.
The last five essays concentrate on areas of interbranch cooperation and conflict. In particular, they discuss the meaning of separation of powers in the 1790s, Washington as an active president with Congress, the contrast between Hamilton's and Jefferson's exercise of political influence with Congress, and John Adams's relationship with Congress during the Quasi-War crisis.
The essays in this collection, the second volume of the series Perspectives on the History of Congress, 1789-1801, originated in two conferences held in 1995 and 1996 by the United States Capitol Historical Society.
With the rise of Black Lives Matter and immigrant rights protests, critics have questioned whether mainstream black and Latino civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and UnidosUS are in touch with the needs of minorities—especially from younger generations. Though these mainstream groups have relied on insider political tactics, such as lobbying and congressional testimony, to advocate for minority interests, Michael D. Minta argues that these strategies are still effective tools for advocating for progressive changes.
In No Longer Outsiders, Minta provides a comprehensive account of the effectiveness of minority civil rights organizations and their legislative allies. He finds that the organizations’ legislative priorities are consistent with black and Latino preferences for stronger enforcement of civil rights policy and immigration reform. Although these groups focus mainly on civil rights for blacks and immigration issues for Latinos, their policy agendas extend into other significant areas. Minta concludes with an examination of how diversity in Congress helps groups gain greater influence and policy success despite many limits placed upon them.
How important are local newspapers for disseminating information during election campaigns? A large body of literature theorizes that they should have very little effect on political behavior since the electorate is largely immune to any media influence. To what lengths would the average citizen go to obtain information about candidates should a media source suddenly be suspended during an election? Most of the literature argues that the average citizen would not seek out any additional information to supplement what they passively acquire. A newspaper strike in Pittsburgh during the 1992 elections afforded Jeffery J. Mondak an unparalleled opportunity to test these assumptions--and to prove them both wrong.
Nothing to Read compares the information gathering and voting behavior of residents in Pittsburgh and Cleveland during the 1992 campaign season. Comparable in demographics and political behavior, the only significant difference between the two cities was the availability of local newspapers. Using a research design that combines elements of the opinion survey and the laboratory experiment, the author exploited this situation to produce an unusually sound and thorough examination of media effects on voters.
The results are startling. First and foremost, Nothing to Read reasserts the role of the newspaper in the dissemination of information acquisition. It is the only media source that can rival television in the electoral arena, and it is often more important to voters as a source for local information, including information about U.S. House races. Nothing to Read also shows that voters are more active in seeking out information than typically postulated. Indeed, many voters even differentiate between media sources for information about Senate and House contests and sources for the presidential campaign. Within limits, the electorate is clearly not a passive news audience. Nothing to Read provides a wealth of information on such related topics as the relationship between partisanship and media influence, the interplay between media exposure and interpersonal political conversations and other social interaction, and newspapers' effect on coattail voting. A unique book, Mondak's important study lays a solid foundation for all future work on the relationship between American media and politics.
Jeffery J. Mondak is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh.
Dysfunction in the contemporary Senate is driven by the deteriorating relationship between the majority and minority parties in the institution. In this environment, regular order is virtually nonexistent and unorthodox parliamentary procedures are frequently needed to pass important legislation. This is because Democrats and Republicans are now fighting a parliamentary war in the Senate to help steer the future direction of the country. James Wallner presents a new, bargaining model of procedural change to better explain the persistence of the filibuster in the current polarized environment, and focuses on the dynamics ultimately responsible for the nature and direction of contested procedural change. Wallner’s model explains why Senate majorities have historically tolerated the filibuster, even when it has been used to defeat their agenda, despite having the power to eliminate it unilaterally at any point. It also improves understanding of why the then-Democratic majority chose to depart from past practice when they utilized the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster for one of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees in 2013. On Parliamentary War’s game-theoretic approach provides a more accurate understanding of the relationship between partisan conflict and procedural change in the contemporary Senate.
Although Oscar W. Underwood was considered a titan of his age, few American political figures have suffered such neglect as he. Except for his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in 1924, his political career is largely forgotten even in Alabama. The one place in which Underwood is well remembered is in the folklore of Congress, where he is widely regarded as a great party leader who had mastered the rules perhaps as thoroughly as any member of Congress. This mastery, together with steady work, personal magnetism, and a willingness to compromise, made him effective as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in formulating a majority program after the Democrats seized control of the House in 1910. Pat Harrison, Underwood's lieutenant as minority leader, referred to Underwood as the "greatest natural parliamentarian, the greatest leader of a law-making body that I ever saw."
--from the Preface to Oscar W. Underwood: A Political Biography
In this study of Miles Poindexter, Insurgent Republican turned conservative, Howard W. Allen reaches beyond the traditional bounds of biography to present a history of the United States Congress during the Progressive era and the early years after World War I.
A congressman (1909–13)and a senator (1913–23), Miles Poindexter of Washington State was an outspoken, progressive reformer before World War I. He struggled to protect “the people” from “special interests,” particularly defending the interest of his section against eastern “colonialism.” A man with a penchant for absolute positions, Poindexter became caught up in the emotionalism of the Insurgent Republican revolt. At one time or another he championed Socialists, the IWW, the striking textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts—all unlikely causes for a middle-class lawyer from Spokane.
Regarding foreign policy, Poindexter was an uncompromising nationalist who, with Theodore Roosevelt, declared himself a member of the Progressive party in 1912.
After 1917 Poindexter actively tried to suppress opponents of the war. Following the war his targets were “Bolshevists” and other radicals. He also developed intense hostility toward Socialists, the IWW, and organized labor, fearing radicalism and labor. Reversing his former position, he allied himself with the eastern businessmen and regular Republicans in the Senate. Campaigning for the presidency in 1920, he appealed without success to the most conservative members of the party. He was defeated b a progressive Democrat in his 1922 bid for reelection to the Senate.
Allen examines the traditional sources—archival collections, newspaper files, and congressional reports. When he combines this material with a quantitative analysis of roll-call votes throughout Senator Poindexter’s years in Congress, he creates a remarkably useful method never before attempted in political biography.
Campaign consultants are arguably now as famous in the United States as the politicians themselves. During the past decade, those who know the names Bill Clinton, George Bush, Newt Gingrich, and Christine Todd Whitman also recognize the names James Carville, Mary Matalin, Frank Luntz, and Ed Rollins. Professional consultants, once part of the privileged inner circle of presidential and gubernatorial candidates, are increasingly found at all levels of politics. Indeed, more than half of congressional candidates hire campaign consultants. These professional have become as important to a candidate's success as money. In this innovative study, Stephen K. Medvic explores all aspects of political consultancy and develops an empirically based theory that ensures the impact consultants have on elections.
Political Consultants in U.S. Congressional Elections answers two simple questions: What do professional political consultants do? and How successful are they? Medvic analyzes the way consultants shape political dialogue and uses empirical data to show the benefits—and limits—of a consultant's involvement in a campaign. He focuses on issues as diverse as vote shares, outcomes, and fundraising. Finally, the author demonstrates how the adversarial nature of campaigns fosters the kind of electioneering advocated by most political consultants and argues that this process may not be as harmful for the country as is often suggested.
In The Politics of Herding Cats, John Lovett looks at the relationship between media, Congress, and public policy, showing that leaders in Congress under normal circumstances control public policy on issue areas due to their status both within Congress and in the media by and large. When issue coverage on topics increases in media, however, other members seize on the opportunities to engage in the issue and shift public policy away from leader desires. As more members engage and more groups become involved, leaders lose the ability to control the process and are more likely to have problems actually getting public policy enacted. Lovett look at this phenomenon using newspaper coverage in the Washington Post over a 40-year period, both in terms of general analysis as well as individual case studies exploring agricultural subsidies (a low coverage topic), immigration (a changing coverage topic), and health care (a high coverage topic). As coverage increases, the amount leaders can control in the process decreases. Only under extreme circumstances, as seen in the Affordable Care Act, can leaders get anything done at all. The Politics of Herding Cats would be useful for those who wish to better understand the relationship between the media and Congress. It will also be useful to those who want to understand the relationship between actors in government and how the media has influenced American politics, as well as how individual members of Congress can go against party leaders on major issues.
Although the U.S. Constitution requires that the House of Representatives and the Senate pass legislation in identical form before it can be sent to the president for final approval, the process of resolving differences between the chambers has received surprisingly little scholarly attention. Hong Min Park, Steven S. Smith, and Ryan J. Vander Wielen document the dramatic changes in intercameral resolution that have occurred over recent decades, and examine the various considerations made by the chambers when determining the manner in which the House and Senate pursue conciliation. Politics Over Process demonstrates that partisan competition, increasing party polarization, and institutional reforms have encouraged the majority party to more creatively restructure post-passage processes, often avoiding the traditional standing committee and conference processes altogether.
“Megabills” that package scores of legislative proposals into House and Senate bills are a phenomenon of the congressional reforms of the 1970s and the agenda changes of the 1980s. These bills generate unprecedented disagreements between the House and Senate, requiring congressional leaders, the president, committee chairs, and junior members to play new roles in this struggle for resolution.
Conference committees of hundreds of members, informal negotiations among party leaders, and preconference strategizing and behavior are among the new realities of bicameralism that are viewed in this study. These conferences are vital because they generally are the last arenas in which large-scale changes can be made in legislation.
Van Beek uses a case study approach that investigates the legislative histories of recent bills on the savings and loan bailout, the major trade bill of the late 1980s, and several budget reconciliation bills. His research is brought to life through personal experience as a legislative aide, direct observation of Congress at work, and interviews with members, staff and lobbyists.
In the wake of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, the Christian Right expected major victories in the 1998 elections. Instead, many of its allies lost close contests, and the movement was seen as a liability in some high-profile campaigns. In the only in-depth study of the Christian Right's role in these races, leading scholars analyze the role of the movement in fourteen key states, from Maine to California, and address speculations that the movement is fading from the American political scene.
The book focuses on elections on the state and local levels, where the Christian Right is most influential, and it describes the movement's niche in some detail. Although each campaign described in the book had its unique characteristics, the editors have drawn some broad conclusions about the 1998 elections. While the movement was weak in the areas of candidate recruitment and fundraising, they say, the outcome may have also been related to external factors including a broader turnout of typically Democratic constituencies and the country's boredom with the scandal that conservatives had made the centerpiece of their campaign. Despite the setbacks of 1998, the contributors argue, the Christian Right continues to have an enormous influence on the political dialogue of the country.
Written from an unbiased, nonpartisan perspective, this volume sheds light on a topic that is too frequently mired in controversy.
Spitzer's classic study of presidential power, The Presidency and Public Policy examines the annual domestic legislative programs of US presidents from 1954-1974 to show how and in what ways the characteristics of their proposals affected their success in dealing with Congress (success being defined as Congress's passing the presidents' legislative proposals in the forms offered). Presidential skills matter, but Spitzer demonstrates that the successful application of those skills is relatively easy for some policies and next to impossible for others. Certain consistent patterns predominate regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, and to a great extent those patterns prescribe prseidential behavior.
In recent years, the executive branch's ability to maneuver legislation through Congress has become the measure of presidential success or failure. Although the victor of legislative battles is often readily discernible, debate is growing over how such victories are achieved.
In The President in the Legislative Arena, Jon R. Bond and Richard Fleisher depart dramatically from the concern with presidential influence that has dominated research on presidential-congressional relations for the past thirty years. Of the many possible factors involved in presidential success, those beyond presidential control have long been deemed unworthy of study. Bond and Fleisher disagree. Turning to democratic theory, they insist that it is vitally important to understand the conditions under which the executive brance prevails, regardless of the source of that success. Accordingly, they provide a thorough and unprecedented analysis of presidential success on congressional roll-call votes from 1953 through 1984. Their research demonstrates that the degree of cooperation between the two branches is much more systematically linked to the partisan and ideological makeup of Congress than to the president's bargaining ability and popularity. Thus the composition of Congress "inherited" by the president is the single most significant determinant of the success or failure of the executive branch.
Donald A. Ritchie Harvard University Press, 1991 Library of Congress PN4899.W3R58 1991 | Dewey Decimal 070.92273
Donald Ritchie examines the lives of early, self-styled congressional journalists such as Horace Greeley, Emily Briggs, Benjamin Perley Poore, Jane Grey Swisshelm, Horace White, James G. Blaine, and others who were positioned in the hub of government when the Civil War, the purchase of Alaska, the Crédit Mobilier scandal, and the Johnson impeachment hearings were making front-page news. Rich in anecdote, this lively book illuminates an important era of journalism and American history. The nascent issues of censorship, right to privacy, and conflict of interest that it describes are still very much with us.
Public opinion is one of the most elusive and complex concepts in democratic theory, and we do not fully understand its role in the political process. Reading Public Opinion offers one provocative approach for understanding how public opinion fits into the empirical world of politics. In fact, Susan Herbst finds that public opinion, surprisingly, has little to do with the mass public in many instances.
Herbst draws on ideas from political science, sociology, and psychology to explore how three sets of political participants—legislative staffers, political activists, and journalists—actually evaluate and assess public opinion. She concludes that many political actors reject "the voice of the people" as uninformed and nebulous, relying instead on interest groups and the media for representations of public opinion. Her important and original book forces us to rethink our assumptions about the meaning and place of public opinion in the realm of contemporary democratic politics.
The Right of Instruction and Representation in American Legislatures, 1778 to 1900 provides a comprehensive analysis of the role constituent instructions played in American politics for more than a hundred years after its founding. Constituent instructions were more widely issued than previously thought, and members of state legislatures and Congress were more likely to obey them than political scientists and historians have assumed. Peverill Squire expands our understanding of constituent instructions beyond a handful of high-profile cases, through analyses of two unique data sets: one examining more than 5,000 actionable communications (instructions and requests) sent to state legislators by constituents through town meetings, mass meetings, and local representative bodies; the other examines more than 6,600 actionable communications directed by state legislatures to their state’s congressional delegations. He draws the data, examples, and quotes almost entirely from original sources, including government documents such as legislative journals, session laws, town and county records, and newspaper stories, as well as diaries, memoirs, and other contemporary sources. Squire also includes instructions to and from Confederate state legislatures in both data sets. In every respect, the Confederate state legislatures mirrored the legislatures that preceded and followed them.
Are our elections for sale? Americans have long asked this question in the face of skyrocketing campaign spending by candidates and parties. Then, in the 1990s, came a wave of wealthy individuals whose deep pockets seemed to be buying political offices across the country. Our worst suspicions were confirmed. Or were they? What effect do self-financers really have on electoral outcomes? Jennifer Steen's authoritative empirical study of self-financed candidates is a landmark in American politics. Steen thoroughly dispels the notion that self-funded candidates can buy legislative seats, proving that the vast majority of self-financers do not win their elections. Her book gives us a truer understanding of self-financers' actual influence on campaign competition and rhetoric.
Jennifer A. Steen is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Boston College and a former political consultant. She is one of the nation's leading authorities on self-financed candidates.
Taking the Initiative shows that majority party leaders in Congress have set and successfully pushed their own policy agendas for decades—revealing the 'Contract With America' as only the most recent, and certainly not the most successful, example of independent policy making.
Cutting deeply into the politics and personalities of three decades of party leadership, John B. Bader probes the strategies and evaluates the effectiveness of House and Senate leaders operating in a divided government, when Congress and the presidency are controlled by different political parties. He provides a historical context for analyzing the"Contract" and shows that aggressive agenda-setting has long been a regular feature of majority party leadership.
Bader interviewed more than seventy congressional leaders, staff members, party officials, and political consultants, including speakers Thomas "Tip" O'Neill and Jim Wright, for this book. He supplemented these interviews with research in largely unexplored archival materials such as press conference transcripts, notes from White House leadership meetings, and staff memoranda on strategy.
For most bills in American legislatures, the issue of turf—or which committee has jurisdiction over a bill—can make all the difference. Turf governs the flow and fate of all legislation. In this innovative study, David C. King explains how jurisdictional areas for committees are created and changed in Congress.
Political scientists have long maintained that jurisdictions are relatively static, changing only at times of dramatic reforms. Not so, says King. Combining quantitative evidence with interviews and case studies, he shows how on-going turf wars make jurisdictions fluid.
According to King, jurisdictional change stems both from legislators seeking electoral advantage and from nonpartisan House parliamentarians referring ambiguous bills to committees with the expertise to handle the issues. King brilliantly dissects the politics of turf grabbing and at the same time shows how parliamentarians have become institutional guardians of the legislative process.
Original and insightful, Turf Wars will be valuable to those interested in congressional studies and American politics more generally.
The use of filibusters in the U.S. Senate by small numbers of members to prevent legislative action apparently desired by a majority of the members--as evidenced by the battles over civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s--is legendary. Similar situations have existed in other legislative bodies over time. The fear that they will at some time be in the minority has inhibited actions by the majority groups to control the right of minority groups to block legislative action. And yet from time to time the majority in a legislative body has forced a change in the rules to control the rights of the minority. When does the majority seek to limit minority rights to obstruct legislation? Douglas Dion, in a unique study, develops a formal model to set out the conditions under which majorities will limit minority rights. He finds that when majorities are small, they will be more cohesive. This majority cohesion leads to minority obstruction, which in turn leads to majority efforts to force procedural change to control the ability of the minority to obstruct legislation. Dion then tests his findings in a rich consideration of historical cases from the nineteenth-century U.S. House of Representatives, the nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. Senate, the British House of Commons, and an account of the Austro-Hungarian Parliament written by Mark Twain.
Turning the Legislative Thumbscrew is a work that combines formal analysis with extensive historical evidence to address an important problem in democratic theory. Specialists in legislative politics and American political development, as well as those more broadly interested in the relationship between democratic theory and institutional structure, will find the work of great interest.
Douglas Dion is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan.
The party whips are essential components of the U.S. legislative system, responsible for marshalling party votes and keeping House and Senate party members in line. In The Whips, C. Lawrence Evans offers a comprehensive exploration of coalition building and legislative strategy in the U.S. House and Senate, ranging from the relatively bipartisan, committee-dominated chambers of the 1950s to the highly polarized congresses of the 2000s. In addition to roll call votes and personal interviews with lawmakers and staff, Evans examines the personal papers of dozens of former leaders of the House and Senate, especially former whips. These records allowed Evans to create a database of nearly 1,500 internal leadership polls on hundreds of significant bills across five decades of recent congressional history.
The result is a rich and sweeping understanding of congressional party leaders at work. Since the whips provide valuable political intelligence, they are essential to understanding how coalitions are forged and deals are made on Capitol Hill.
Why do some voters split their ballots, selecting a Republican for one office and a Democrat for another? Why do voters often choose one party to control the White House while the other controls the Congress? Barry Burden and David Kimball address these fundamental puzzles of American elections by explaining the causes of divided government and debunking the myth that voters prefer the division of power over one-party control. Why Americans Split Their Tickets links recent declines in ticket-splitting to sharpening policy differences between parties and demonstrates why candidates' ideological positions still matter in American elections.
"Burden and Kimball have given us the most careful and thorough analysis of split-ticket voting yet. It won't settle all of the arguments about the origins of ticket splitting and divided government, but these arguments will now be much better informed. Why Americans Split Their Tickets is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the major trends in U.S. electoral politics of the past several decades."
-Gary Jacobson, University of California, San Diego
"When voters split their tickets or produce divided government, it is common to attribute the outcome as a strategic verdict or a demand for partisan balance. Burden and Kimball strongly challenge such claims. With a thorough and deft use of statistics, they portray ticket-splitting as a by-product of the separate circumstances that drive the outcomes of the different electoral contests. This will be the book to be reckoned with on the matter of ticket splitting."
-Robert Erikson, Columbia University
"[Burden and Kimball] offset the expansive statistical analysis by delving into the historical circumstances and results of recent campaigns and elections. ... [They] make a scholarly and informative contribution to the understanding of the voting habits of the American electorate-and the resulting composition of American government."
-Shant Mesrobian, NationalJournal.com