Committees in Congress
Providing a comprehensive examination of the origins, development, and status of committees and committee systems in both the House and Senate, this edition carries on the book's tradition of comprehensive coverage, empirical richness, and theoretical relevance in its discussion of these essential and distinguishing features of our national legislature. While the second edition focused on the “post-reform” committee systems, addressed the shifts in the internal distribution of power, and hinted at the forces that had already begun to undermine the power of committees, this edition updates that analysis and looks at the reforms that evolvied under the Republicans. It offers complete coverage of the rules and structural changes to the House and Senate committee systems. It extends its discussion of committee power and influence in ...
- Front Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Committees in Congress
- Perspectives on Committee Power
- Conditions Shaping the Role of Committees
- Forms of Committee Power in Congress
- Types of Committees
- Sources of Committee Procedure and Structure
- Variation and Change in the Committee Systems
- Chapter 2: Evolution and Change in Committees
- Development of the Modern Committee Systems
- Committee Government: 1947–1964
- Reform: 1965–1980
- Postreform Committees (1981–1995): Decentralization and Individualism
- Republican Rule and the 104th Congress
- Committees and Parties in Congress
- Chapter 3: Member Goals and Committee Assignments
- The Importance of Committee Assignments
- Member Goals in the House
- Member Goals in the Senate
- Jurisdictions, Agendas, and Environments
- The Committee Assignment Process
- The Distribution of Preferences
- Chapter 4: Inside Committees: Leaders, Subcommittees, and Staff
- Committee Leaders
- Committee Staff
- Patterns of Subcommittee Orientation
- The Rise and Decline of Subcommittee Government
- Chapter 5: Committees in the Postreform Congress
- Agenda and Partisan Change
- Managing the Agenda
- Committees on the Floor
- Conference Committees
- Perspectives on Committee Power Revisited
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Deering, Christopher J.
Committees in Congress / Christopher J. Deering, Steven S. Smith.—3rd ed.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. United States. Congress—Committees. 2. United States. Congress—Reform. 3. United States—Politics and government—1945–1989. 4. United States—Politics and government—1989—I. Smith, Steven S. II. Title.
To the Mary Deerings c.j.d.
To Barbara, Tyler, and Shannon s.s.s.[Page viii]
Tables, Figures, and Boxes[Page xi]Tables
- 1-1 Types of Congressional Committees 11
- 1-2 Numerical Portrait of the Committee Systems of the 101st (1989–1990) and 105th (1997–1998) Congresses 16
- 1-3 Standing Committees of the 105th Congress (1997–1998) 17
- 2-1 Major Reform and Study Efforts, House and Senate (1965–1996) 34
- 2-2 Major House and Senate Reforms of the 104th Congress (1995–1996) 49
- 3-1 Committee Preference Motivations for New House Members (92d, 97th, and 100/101st Congresses) 64
- 3-2 Regional Representation on Selected House Committees: 89th/90th, 96th/97th, 99th/100th, and 103d/104th Congresses (Percent from Each Region) 76
- 3-3 Committee Preference Motivations for New Senators (92d, 97th, and 100/101st Congresses) 80
- 3-4 Regional Representation on Selected Senate Committees: 89th/90th, 96th/97th, 99th/100th, and 103d/104th Congresses (Percent from Each Region) 85
- 3-5 Fragmentation Among Congressional Committees 89
- 3-6 Minutes of “CBS Evening News” Devoted to Topics Falling Within Committee Jurisdictions 92
- 3-7 Perceived Conflict and Salience of Committees’ Public Environments 95
- 3-8 Committee Requests and Seats for House Majority Party Members, 86th (1959–1960) to 105th (1997–1998) Congresses 99
- 3-9 Criteria Mentioned by House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee Members Making Nominations to Standing Committees (97th Congress) 106 [Page xii]
- 4-1 Number of Committee or Subcommittee Chairmanships and Percentage of Majority Party Holding Chairmanships, Selected Congresses (1955–1998) 140
- 4-2 Institutional Position of Bill Managers, Selected Congresses (1959–1994), in Percentages 143
- 4-3 Percent Support for Party Positions Among Full Committee Chairs, Subcommittee Chairs, and Party Groups, 1971–1996 146
- 4-4 Percentage of Measures Referred to and Percentage of Measures Reported from Committees that Were Referred to Subcommittee or Subjected to a Subcommittee Hearing, Selected Congresses (1969–1994) 156
- 4-5 Percentage of Committee Meetings and Hearings Held by Subcommittees, Selected Congresses (1959–1994) 159
- 4-6 Number of Conference Delegations Structured by Full Committee and Subcommittee Membership, Selected Congresses (1965–1994) 161
- 4-7 Percentage of Committee Staff Allocated to Subcommittees, 1969–1996 167
- 4-8 Subcommittee Orientation of House Committees, Selected Congresses (1969–1994) 170
- 4-9 Subcommittee Orientation of Senate Committees, Selected Congresses (1969–1994) 172
- 5-1 Number of Floor Amendments per Measure in the House, by Committee (Selected Congresses) 205
- 5-2 Number of Floor Amendments per Measure in the Senate, by Committee (Selected Congresses) 207
- 2-1 Number of Congressional Standing Committees, 1789–1997 27
- 2-2 Number of Congressional Standing Subcommittees, 1945–1997 31
- 3-1 House Committee Support of the Conservative Coalition, 1959, 1977, and 1995 110
- 3-2 Senate Committee Support of the Conservative Coalition, 1959, 1977, and 1995 112
- 4-1 Staff of Members and of Committees in Congress, 1891–1996 165
- 1-1 Rules on Bill Referral 8
- 1-2 Rule X: Establishment and Jurisdiction of Standing Committees 12 [Page xiii]
- 1-3 Creating Select Committees: The Whitewater Affair 14
- 2-1 Congressional Committee Systems: Evolution and Change 28
- 2-2 Major House Committee Reforms of the 1970s 36
- 2-3 Salient Features of the Postreform Congress 43
- 3-1 Plenty to Go Around 70
- 3-2 Dole Search Fails: Gramm Going to Finance Panel 79
- 3-3 Steering Committees 102
- 3-4 Democratic Freshman Meek Made All the Right Moves 104
- 4-1 Congressional Seniority—It's Not in Kansas Anymore 128
- 4-2 Low-Key Revolt May Spur Thurmond to Give Colleagues Freer Hand 134
- 4-3 Shuster: A Veteran Road Warrior 139
- 4-4 Tardy Pooper 155
- 5-1 Under Open Rules Discord Rules 212
- 5-2 Eliminating Holds, or Busting the Silent Filibuster 216
Congressional committees have been and remain the central structural element of the United States Congress. Rule and practice in both the House and Senate make it extremely difficult to consider legislation that has not been reviewed by one or more committees. Career-oriented members find that committees, even more than parties, are essential to the achievement of personal political goals. Certainly committees, and the work that they do, increase the efficiency and efficacy of these institutions. But committees are not completely autonomous, and their power has been under siege in recent years. In the House, power has flowed away from the committees to party leaders. In the Senate, the shift has been to the rank and file.
Yet committees are extraordinarily resilient, as this third edition of Committees in Congress demonstrates. Indeed, the dramatic flow of power to House Speaker Newt Gingrich, achieved during the watershed 104th Congress, had reversed to favor committees and committee chairs as the 105th Congress began. And in the Senate, party leaders were searching for ways to limit the atomized power within that chamber—a move that is likely to increase the power of committees there. Finally, divided party government has fostered a rhetoric of cooperation that reflects recognition of the need for bipartisan policy development within committees. How far will all this go? It is hard to say. But we can be sure that whatever comes, committees will retain their place as central features of these two powerful legislative institutions. Whether they are the agents either of their parent chambers or of the two opposing parties or increasingly autonomous, understanding committees is essential to any understanding of Congress.
Although in broad form this edition of Committees is similar to its predecessors, several changes are worth noting. First, and most important, the debate about committee power that has emerged in the literature during the last decade has been given a more prominent position here. This debate—which juxtaposes distributive, informational, and partisan theories—has informed and enlivened the scholarship on Congress and [Page xvi]on committees in many important ways. Indeed, it is fair to say that these contending approaches now dominate much of the literature on Congress. It is only appropriate, therefore, that they be introduced more clearly at the outset of this edition and revisited consistently throughout the text.
Second, previous editions of Committees featured a fairly exhaustive historical treatment of the origins and development of committees. In the interest of space, that review has been condensed to make room for a thorough discussion of the most recent round of reforms in the House and Senate.
And third, the second edition closed with a discussion of a series of reforms that had emerged during the late 1980s. In light of the events that transpired during the 103d and 104th Congresses, that discussion now requires revision. Chapter 2 features an account of the important reform efforts that emerged, but largely failed, in the 103d Congress and the significant alterations adopted by House Republicans and, to a lesser degree, Senate Republicans in the 104th Congress.
Authors of books of this sort inevitably roll up long lists of debts. For this edition, Roger Davidson (as always), Richard Forgette, Sarah Binder, Forrest Maltzman, Priscilla Regan, Paul Walbeck, and Lee Sigelman read all or parts of the manuscript, suggested important changes, and helped to improve this edition in many tangible ways. For this and for previous editions, Stanley Bach, Bill Connelly, Larry Evans, Paul Herrnson, George Kundanis, Walter Oleszek, Bruce Oppenheimer, Jack Pitney, Judy Schneider, Ken Shepsle, Barbara Sinclair, Jim Thurber, Joe Unekis, and Don Wolfensberger provided facts, data, ideas, guidance, and assistance of a sort that marks the scholarly community at its best. As with the previous editions, this edition has been enhanced in tangible and intangible ways by the American Political Science Association's Congressional Fellowship Program and by support from the Dirksen Congressional Leadership Research Center.
I am grateful to David Chambliss, Job Henning, and Mark Kugler, who put in long hours collecting documents and data for this edition. And Rachel Paine Caufield, Jason MacDonald, and Christine Nemechek did yeoman work in the midst of their busy schedules to collect much-needed data at the twelfth hour. I am indebted (and in debt) to them. Finally, it is time to thank John Zorotovich for providing me with a number of keen insights over the years.
This book would not exist if Jean Woy, formerly of CQ Press, had not placed her faith in two untested scholars back in 1981. Since then, a variety of people at CQ have shown continuing faith in the book. Brenda Carter, in particular, has extended that tradition. Tracy Villano edited the manuscript, Talia Greenberg guided the manuscript through final production, [Page xvii]Rhonda Holland put together a thorough index, and Julie Rovesti prepared the promotional materials. I am grateful for their patience, professionalism, and encouragement.
Finally, although much of the data in this and previous editions are taken from archival sources, the willingness of present and former members of Congress and their staff to assist in a variety of ways was essential. At a time when access is increasingly difficult, the continuing generosity of many members and their aides is greatly appreciated.Washington, D.C.[Page xviii]