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Limited Obstruction

  • CHRISTIAN FONG (a1) and KEITH KREHBIEL (a1)

Abstract

Many institutions—including American federal bureaucracies and legislatures world-wide—are characterized by one set of actors who possess the right to determine which policies will be enacted and an opposing set of actors who possess the right to delay the enactment of those policies. However, this interaction is not well understood. We provide a model that shows that a modest procedural right to delay but not veto the enactment of policies affords considerable influence over the policy agenda, so long as policymaking is time-consuming and time is scarce. In an application to the US Senate, our model exhibits properties that are consistent with common empirical claims about partisanship, polarization, and gridlock. It also justifies the considerable variation in the amount of delay imposed on the passage of various bills and the historic reluctance of the Senate to adopt reforms that would expedite the tedious cloture process.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Christian Fong is a Ph.D. Candidate, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Knight Management Center, 655 Knight Way, Stanford University, Stanford CA 94305 (christianfong@stanford.edu)
Keith Krehbiel is Edward B. Rust Professor of Political Science, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Knight Management Center, 655 Knight Way, Stanford University, Stanford CA 94305. (krehbiel@stanford.edu).

Footnotes

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We thank Gary Cox, Greg Koger, Nate Monroe, Sara Krehbiel, Bruce Oppenheimer, Eric Schickler, and seminar participants from the Stanford GSB Political Economy Theory Lunch, the Princeton Quantitative Social Science Colloquium, the University of Richmond Math and Computer Science Colloquium, and the George Mason University Public Choice Seminar for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Footnotes

References

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Limited Obstruction

  • CHRISTIAN FONG (a1) and KEITH KREHBIEL (a1)

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