Between Introduction and Passage: Amending Activity in the United States Congress
27 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 19 Sep 2012
Date Written: 2012
While much scholarly attention is paid to agenda control and outcomes in Congress, there is much less focus on what happens between these two phases of the legislative process. Bills that reach the President’s desk often look much different than how they looked when they were first introduced in chamber. Utilizing a new dataset covering major bill episodes over twenty congresses (1969-2010), we intend to answer several questions dealing with the amendment process in both the House and Senate. Furthermore, we hope to help address the debate between differing theories of procedural organization in Congress. In equilibrium, we should observe very little amending activity as committee proposals would be made at the median of the chamber, yet we observe a great deal of amendments being offered and accepted. What are the conditions under which amendments are allowed in the House? When are amendments restricted in the historically open Senate? Of the hundreds of potential amendments to a bill, what types of amendments gain access to the floor? Are amendments sincere opportunities to alter bills, or is the opportunity to offer an amendment perceived as an attempt to appease certain members of Congress? Our newly collected data can classify amendment degree, sponsorship, coalitional support, and outcome in both chambers in order to answer these questions. By exploiting these data, we can learn more about this underexplored facet of procedural politics in the United States Congress.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation