The Effects of Congressional Staff Networks in the U.S. House of Representatives

48 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2016

See all articles by Jacob Montgomery

Jacob Montgomery

Washington University in St. Louis

Brendan Nyhan

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

Date Written: June 10, 2016

Abstract

Standard accounts of legislative behavior typically neglect the activities of professional staff, who are treated as extensions of the elected officials they serve. However, staff appear to have substantial independent effects on observed levels of legislator productivity and policy preferences. In this paper, we use a novel dataset of comprehensive longitudinal employment records from the U.S. House of Representatives to estimate the effects of Congressional staff on legislative behavior. Specifically, results from a series of heteroskedastic Bayesian spatial autoregressive models indicate that members of Congress who exchange important staff members across congresses are more similar in their legislative effectiveness and voting patterns than we would otherwise expect. These findings suggest that scholars should reconsider the role of staff in the legislative process.

Suggested Citation

Montgomery, Jacob and Nyhan, Brendan, The Effects of Congressional Staff Networks in the U.S. House of Representatives (June 10, 2016). Political Networks Workshops & Conference 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2794410 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2794410

Jacob Montgomery (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1208
Saint Louis, MO MO 63130-4899
United States

Brendan Nyhan

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy ( email )

735 South State Street, Weill Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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