Bicameral Agenda Control: Examining the Effects of Procedural Tools on Congressional Policy Outcomes, 1883-1937
31 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 28 Aug 2011
Date Written: August 26, 2011
One of the key differences between the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate is their differing agenda control mechanisms. In the House, since the late nineteenth century, a simple majority of those present and voting has been able to adopt special rules that can dictate which bills are considered, when they are considered, how long the debate will carry on, and what, if any, amendments will be offered to the bill.
By contrast, the Senate has no equivalent majority agenda control mechanism. In this paper, we begin to assess the effects of differing agenda setting institutions on coalition size and policy outcomes across the two chambers. Using a combination of case study and systematic evidence, we show that the development of special rules in the House served to reduce the size of legislative coalitions, increase chamber efficiency, and restrict overall amending activity relative to the Senate.
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