When Loyalty is Tested: Do Party Leaders Use Committee Assignments as Rewards?

30 Pages Posted: 8 May 2014

See all articles by Nicole Asmussen

Nicole Asmussen

Vanderbilt University

Adam Ramey

New York University Abu Dhabi

Date Written: May 5, 2014


Theories of parties in Congress contend that one tool that party leaders possess to induce loyalty among rank-and-file members is control over committee assignments, but conventional tests of this linkage have failed to distinguish loyalty from simply voting one’s preferences in accordance with party leaders. We conceptualize loyal legislators as voting with party leaders when it matters despite having preferences far from the mainstream of their party. Testing this strong definition of loyalty on committee assignment data for 1993-2007, we show that the members most likely to achieve plum committee assignments are those who both deviate ideologically from their party and support their party on the subset of votes for which party leaders have taken positions in floor speeches.

Keywords: Congress, Committees, Loyalty, Ideal Point Estimation

Suggested Citation

Asmussen, Nicole and Ramey, Adam, When Loyalty is Tested: Do Party Leaders Use Committee Assignments as Rewards? (May 5, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2433872 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2433872

Nicole Asmussen

Vanderbilt University ( email )

2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240
United States

Adam Ramey (Contact Author)

New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

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