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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although partisan polarization gets much of the attention in political science scholarship about Congress, members of Congress represent diverse communities around the country. Home Field Advantage demonstrates the importance of this understudied element of American congressional elections and representation in the modern era: the local, place-based roots that members of Congress have in their home districts. Charles Hunt argues that legislators’ local roots in their district have a significant and independent impact on their campaigns, election outcomes, and more broadly on the relationship between members of the U.S. House of Representatives and their constituents. Drawing on original data, his research reveals that there is considerable variation in election outcomes, performance relative to presidential candidates, campaign spending, and constituent communication styles that are not fully explained by partisanship, incumbency, or other well-established theories of American political representation. Rather, many of these differences are the result of the depth of a legislator’s local roots in their district that predate their time in Congress. Hunt lays out a detailed “Theory of Local Roots” and their influence in congressional representation, demonstrating this influence empirically using multiple original measures of local roots over a full cross- section of legislators and a significant period of time.
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 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.
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.”
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.
American law schools extol democracy but teach little about its most basic institution, the Congress. Interpreting statutes is lawyers’ most basic task, but law professors rarely focus on how statutes are made. This misguided pedagogy, says Victoria Nourse, undercuts the core of legal practice. It may even threaten the continued functioning of American democracy, as contempt for the legislature becomes entrenched in legal education and judicial opinions. Misreading Law, Misreading Democracy turns a spotlight on lawyers’ and judges’ pervasive ignorance about how Congress makes law.
Victoria Nourse not only offers a critique but proposes reforming the way lawyers learn how to interpret statutes by teaching legislative process. Statutes are legislative decisions, just as judicial opinions are decisions. Her approach, legislative decision theory, reverse-engineers the legislative process to simplify the task of finding Congress’s meanings when statutes are ambiguous. This theory revolutionizes how we understand legislative history—not as an attempt to produce some vague notion of legislative intent but as a surgical strike for the best evidence of democratic context.
Countering the academic view that the legislative process is irrational and unseemly, Nourse makes a forceful argument that lawyers must be educated about the basic procedures that define how Congress operates today. Lawmaking is a sequential process with political winners and losers. If lawyers and judges do not understand this, they may well embrace the meanings of those who opposed legislation rather than those who supported it, making legislative losers into judicial winners, and standing democracy on its head.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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