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Participation and Purpose in Committee Decision Making

  • Richard L. Hall (a1)

Abstract

Participation in committee decision making is an important form of legislative behavior but one we know little about. I develop a model of committee participation and test it using data drawn from staff interviews and records of the House Committee on Education and Labor. The analysis confirms that congressmen are purposive actors, but it also shows that different interests incite participation on different issues and that motivational effects vary in predictable ways across legislative contexts. If members are purposive, however, they also face a variable set of opportunities and constraints that structure their ability to act. Members and especially leaders of the reporting subcommittee, for instance, enjoy advantages in terms of information, staff, and lines of political communication. At the same time, freshman status entails behavioral constraints despite the reputed demise of apprenticeship in legislative life. Understanding such patterns of interest and ability, I conclude, should permit us to illuminate several larger questions regarding decision making and representation in a decentralized Congress.

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Participation and Purpose in Committee Decision Making

  • Richard L. Hall (a1)

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