Why Conference Committees?: A Policy Explanation for the Use of Conference
Posted: 13 Aug 2009
Date Written: 2009
Little scholarly literature has examined why the chambers of the U.S. congress use conference committees to reconcile inter-cameral legislative differences. Conference committees occur frequently and handle the most important legislation. Why would the chambers be willing to delegate conciliation authority to a subset of the membership that is then granted wide leverage in shaping the policy choices on legislation with such broad implications for the membership? It would seem that existing theoretical models addressing this matter are somewhat incomplete in their handling of formal procedures and/or the motivations of involved actors. In this paper, we argue that certain conditions on preferences and information yield the chambers, who must be complicit in the decision to go to conference, higher expected policy returns to delegating this authority to utility-maximizing conferees.
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