Fenno on the House Appropriations Committee's Success: (Or, How to Construct a Nash Equilibrium Without Really Trying)

8 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2015

See all articles by Barry R. Weingast

Barry R. Weingast

Stanford University, Department of Political Science

Date Written: November 2, 2015

Abstract

Fenno's classic paper, "The Appropriations Committee as a Political System" (1962), focuses on the norms and institutions that are the foundations of House Appropriations Committee’s (HAC) success. The fundamental idea is that of committee integration, the degree to which committee members cooperate so as to capture the gains from cooperation. According to Fenno, cooperation requires procedures and norms for successful bargaining, first within committee then before the whole chamber. As Fenno reports, cooperation requires that committee members adhere to several norms: committee integration, the ability to make decisions without creating disorder; members specialize by subcommittee, focusing on matters before their subcommittee, not those matters before other subcommittees; committee members practice reciprocity, by which members not on a given subcommittee defer to and support the recommendations of that subcommittee; and members exhibit to subcommittee unity, the practice that, no matter what the disagreements in the subcommittee about the bill, all subcommittee members support the subcommittee’s recommendations in the full committee. This paper shows that Fenno constructs a Nash equilibrium of committee integration that explains why committee members had incentives to follow the HAC norms.

Keywords: Congress, organizations, congressional norms, agenda power, expertise, nash equilibrium

JEL Classification: D23, D71, D78, H50, L31, N42

Suggested Citation

Weingast, Barry R., Fenno on the House Appropriations Committee's Success: (Or, How to Construct a Nash Equilibrium Without Really Trying) (November 2, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2684565 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2684565

Barry R. Weingast (Contact Author)

Stanford University, Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States
650-723-0497 (Phone)
650-723-1808 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.stanford.edu/group/mcnollgast/cgi-bin/wordpress/

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