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Essays on procedural development in the United States Congress

Posted on:2007-04-18Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:University of MinnesotaCandidate:Lawrence, Eric DunstanFull Text:PDF
GTID:1456390005479887Subject:Political science
This study approaches a set of discrete topics on institutional change in the U.S. Congress, primarily in the period spanned by the Civil War (with the emergence of the modern two party system) and World War II (which marks the contemporary Congress of the 1946 Legislative Reform Act). Three substantive topics are covered in three chapters. Chapter two, on the publication of the precedents in the House and the non-publication of precedents in the Senate, demonstrates a significant effect of the publication of the House precedents on the behavior of members' willingness to appeal decisions of the chair. Publication of the precedents reduced the frequency of appeals, a finding consistent with the qualitative arguments of past parliamentarians but never before demonstrated empirically. The chapter also demonstrates that the publication effect found for the House is not an artifact of some secular trend in legislative behavior, doing so by showing that no similar pattern occurs in the Senate during the same period of time. Chapter three brings evidence to discriminate between the current competing positions on committee jurisdictions---the position that formal jurisdictions are irrelevant versus the position that formal jurisdictions have an impact above and beyond the precedents. The oleomargarine case supports the latter position, but also reveals important differences across the two chambers with respect to committee jurisdictions, a nuance that has been ignored in the precedent-based versus rule-based jurisdictions debate. Chapter four extends current research on procedural effect on coalition sizes, again revealing the importance of the leverage provided by House-Senate comparisons. The findings of this chapter cast doubt on prominent recent findings that the creation of the cloture rule in the Senate in 1917 tended to increase the size of legislative coalitions on final passage votes. By comparing the Senate coalition sizes to the House coalition sizes, we see that House coalition sizes were increasing at the same rate as the Senate coalition sizes, suggesting that alternative explanations of variation in coalition size likely accounts for the increasing coalition sizes in both chambers.
Keywords/Search Tags:Coalition sizes
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