Partisan Efficiency in an Open-Rule Setting: The Amending Process in the U.S. Senate, 1865-1946
33 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 18, 2010
Although amendments can fundamentally alter the substantive content of legislative proposals in Congress, we know surprisingly little about their use relative to final passage and rules votes. This is especially important in the U.S. Senate given the historically open amending process in the upper chamber. Utilizing a new data set consisting of all amendments receiving recorded roll call votes in the Senate from 1865-1946, we examine amending activity and draw several conclusions. First, majority leaders appear to be successful at reigning in party extremists from offering divisive amendments on the floor despite not having control over the agenda. Second, amendments proposed by majority party senators are more likely to be adopted relative to their counterparts in the minority. However, chamber majorities cannot restrict minority party members from offering numerous amendments designed to force them to cast uncomfortable votes and delay the legislative process. Finally, moderates within the minority party still enjoy considerable success in getting their amendments adopted.
Keywords: Congress, U.S. Senate, amendments
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