Procedural Structure
Success and Influence In Congress

New York: Praeger, 1984. 285 p.
ISBN 0-03-069892-8
KF4937.S93 1984

As the subject drifted around to the House of Representatives, I asked a very harmless question. "Mr. Rayburn, to what do you attribute your success?" But instead of waiting for him to reply, I added tactlessly, "Horsetrading?" When the top of his head turned pink, I knew that I should have waited. He replied, "NO! A knowledge of parliamentary procedure!"
-- C. Dwight Dorough, Mr. Sam

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction

  2. Some Themes about What Rules Do

  3. An Analytic Taxonomy of Rules
    • How A Bill Becomes a Law
    • A Taxonomy of Procedure
      • Resolution Rules
      • Admissibility Rules
      • Resource Distribution Rules
      • Jurisdiction Rules
      • General Structrure

  4. The Thematic Importance of Resolution
    • Three Conditions on Legislative Decision Rules
    • The Simple Majority Rule and Responsiveness
    • General Implications for Procedural Impact and Differential Influence
    • Conclusion
    • The Data

  5. Evaluating the Resolution Rules
    • The Sequence Rule and the Legislative Situation
    • Manipulating Sequence: Black's Theory
    • A Sequencing Effect: Radicalness
    • A Sequencing Effect: Complexity
    • Manipulating Sequence on the Floor
    • Conclusion

  6. Evaluating the Admissibility Rules
    • The Germaness Requirements
    • Unidimensionality and Narrowing Options
    • A Germaneness Effect
    • Manipulating Germaneness
    • A Note about Situational Admissibility
    • Conclusion

  7. Evaluating the Resource Rules
    • Various Procedures
    • Components of Committee Resources
    • Procedural Effects
    • Affecting Distributions on Committees
    • Conclusion

  8. Evaluating the Jurisdiction Rules
    • Charter Effects
    • Assignment Rules
    • Conclusion

  9. Regular Order: Procedural Impact in the House
    • Variables for Study
    • Legislative Success: Testing Procedure against the Success of Motions
    • Special Operationalizations Regarding Influence
    • Legislative Influence: Testing Procedure Against the Influence of Members
    • Conclusion: The Impact of Procedure

  10. Success and Influence

  1. Typical Phrasing of Selected Special Order Germaneness Restrictions
  2. Key Coalitional Actors
Selected Bibliography


About the Author.

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"Impeachment Practice in the Era of Lethal Conflict." Congress and the Presidency, 25(Autumn 1998)117-128.

In the current environment, impeachment verges on becoming just what the Founding Fathers feared it could become - just another weapon in lethal partisan conflict. By examining the practice of impeachment, we can appreciate that while in theory we want impeachment locked away in a gun safe somewhere in the House, in practice, it really is just a loaded pistol laying out there on the coffee table. Without taking care, the current atmosphere can easily turn impeachment into a "vote of no confidence" on policy grounds - a cheap way to change the government without invoking new elections; to bend the Presidency to the Congress's will.

Using confidential vote counting information from inside the operations of the Congressional majority in the 93rd Congress (1973-1974), this article explores the empirical importance of two central presumptions in impeachment theory: "due deliberation" and the power of ambition. The evidence from the effort to impeach President Richard Nixon suggests that practice varies greatly from the theory, implying in turn that impeachment constitutes a more practical political weapon than the theory presupposes. In light of that empirical conclusion, the article then explores the potential for its use in the current partisan setting concluding that the potential for its political use appears high. The article concludes with a comment on how impeachment used in this practical, partisan way can become a vote of "no confidence," which, when combined with the provisions for succession, can undermine the constitutional system.

Download a draft of the copyrighted article in pdf.
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"President-Centered and Presidency-Centered Explanations of Presidential Public Activity." with Gregory L. Hager. American Journal of Political Science, 38(1994): 675-92.

This article challenges the popular notion that outsiders (e.g., Reagan) have redefined the President's leadership strategy. We look at data on presidential activities from 1949 through 1984. For that period, the variables that have the most effect on the President's schedule of public activities have to do with job related constraints on the President's time (like economic and diplomatic crises and how big is the White House operation the President must manage) and the state of technology (e.g., how fast and how far can Air Force 1 fly?). Thus, we conclude that political science research needs to focus more on "Presidency-Centered" analysis, focussed on institutional characteristics and work load, etc.

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"The Bank Account Presidency: A New Measure and Evidence on the Temporal Path of Presidential Influence." American Journal of Political Science, 35(1991):686-723.

"Wrong Questions, Ø-Questions, Legitimate Questions, Reasoned Answers: Affirming the Study of Temporal Paths." American Journal of Political Science, 35(1991):730-37.

These two articles test the popular notion that presidential influence declines over time. They establish a new measure of presidential influence called "sway" which more closely represents the standard definitions of influence and power. Using sway, the articles determine that none of the five presidents in the database (from Eisenhower through Ford) experienced monotonicly declining influence. In fact some improved their influence over time.

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"Bargaining with the President: A Simple Game and New Evidence." American Political Science Review, 84(1990):1167-96.

This paper employs a simple game to suggest the importance of information and expectations on bargaining strategies and responses. It identifies a member's predisposition in order to identify actors likely to be bargaining. Using administration headcounts, the research finds that while very few members misrepresent their preferences during the coalition-building process, those who do are a large proportion of the administration's core supporters, make their misrepresentations unsystematic to avoid a costly reputation, and convert more readily than those who are not. Strategic considerations drive conversion among bluffing members while identification with the administration determines conversion among other members. Compromise generates few conversions. A conservative estimate of bluffing suggests that the conversion of bluffers decided more than half the administration's critical votes. I speculate about a model to account for the observed bluffing.

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