How the President and Senate Affect the Balance of Power in the House: A Constitutional Theory of Leadership Bargaining
Posted: 2 Jul 2008
Can the President or the Senate affect the balance of power in the House? We find that they can. Our answer comes from a model that links House leadership decisions to the constitutional requirement to build lawmaking coalitions with the Senate and President. Changing the ideal point of a non-House actor, while holding constant the ideal point of all House members, can alter the House's balance of power. Power shifts because changes in the Senate or President can reshape the set of achievable legislative outcomes, which, in turn, alters the bargaining power of key House members. A corollary clarifies when empowering preference outliers (policy extremists) in the House leads to legislative outcomes that moderates prefer. Overall, our theory clarifies how constitutional requirements induce House members to make different leadership decisions than they would if they were, as commonly represented, unaware of other chambers or branches of government.
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