Avoiding Oversight: Legislator Preferences & Congressional Monitoring of the Administrative State
21 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2011 Last revised: 13 Jan 2021
Date Written: 2011
Subcommittee oversight hearings provide perhaps the most deeply-rooted and widely-accepted mechanism for congressional involvement in the administrative state, yet surprisingly little is known about the motivations of members of Congress to perform this most basic means of monitoring administrative agencies. This article examines House members’ interest in oversight-focused subcommittees as a means of assessing the ability of these bodies to monitor and control administrative agencies. Analysis of original data on subcommittee transfers shows that members of Congress, in the aggregate, are disinclined to serve on oversight-intensive subcommittees. In a climate of increased presidential involvement in administration and significant judicial deference to agency decision-making, this congressional reluctance has implications for the functioning of the administrative state in a system of separated institutions sharing power.
Keywords: Congress, oversight, congressional administration, separation of powers, administrative law
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