The Effects of Congressional Staff Networks in the U.S. House of Representatives
48 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 10, 2016
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.
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