Presidents on the Fast Track: Fighting Floor Amendments with Restrictive Rules
39 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2020
Date Written: January 6, 2020
Among presidents’ lesser known legislative powers is urgency authority. Seven Latin American presidents wield it: the constitutional power to impose on lawmakers a short deadline to discuss and vote selected bills. This power is similar to the fast-track authority that Congress grants periodically to the U.S. president. We claim that the key consequence of urgency authority is procedural: urgency prevents amendments during floor consideration. By using fast track authority, presidents can protect bills and committee agreements; in essence becoming a single-member Rules Committee with ability to impose closed rules on the floor. A formal model generates hypotheses that we test with original data from Chile between 1998 and 2014. Results confirm that preference overlap between the president and committee chairs drives the use of fast track authority systematically. Patterns in Chile are reminiscent of restrictive rule usage in the U.S.
Keywords: Separation of Powers, Urgency Prerrogatives, Fast Track Authority, Legislative Process, Latin America, Chile
JEL Classification: D02
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation