View Segments Segment :

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Embed
  • Link
  • Help
  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Embed
  • Link
  • Help
Successfully saved clip
Find all your clips in My Lists
Failed to save clip
  • Transcript
  • Transcript

    Auto-Scroll: ONOFF 
    • 00:17

      FRANCES LEE: The United States Congress--I mean, the word congress-- means coming together.And the Congress assembles togetherrepresentatives elected from geographic constituenciesall across the United States.The Congress is a bicameral body,meaning it's made up of two chambers.

    • 00:37

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: The House of Representatives is made up of 435 voting members,each representing districts of around 713,000 constituents.The Senate made up of 100 senators, two from each state,regardless of population.

    • 01:01

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: A couple of key factors that have influencedthe evolution of the modern Congressgave been the rise of the filibuster--the use of the filibuster, in the Senate.The Senate has always had rules that were very permissiveof obstruction.Senators delaying votes and holding up the process

    • 01:23

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: for purposes of extracting concessions.But in the past, the filibuster hadbeen used for matters of great importance for senators'states.Mainly the filibuster is importantin the historical Congress for delaying action on civil rights

    • 01:43

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: as Southern representatives and senators stepped into halt national action in those areas.But the filibuster has now expandedto virtually all issues.That the minority party now systematicallydeploys the filibuster so as to wield a vetoover the majority's agenda.

    • 02:06

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: We often refer to this as "The Rise of the 60-Vote Senate."Sixty votes is what is necessary to bring debate to a close.And it made the institution much more supermajoritarianthan it used to be.It used to be the case that a majority could governin the Senate-- or on a pretty routine basis

    • 02:26

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: the majority would prevail.But now a supermajority is necessary.So that's changed the operation of the body,but it's interesting that it has occurredin a way that is just a matter of a change in practice.It was not something that senators adopteda new rule that allowed for greater use of the filibuster,

    • 02:47

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: it simply expanded the norms and practicesthat were prevalent in the institution shifted.So that's one important factor thatchanged the way the Senate works and the waythe Congress as a whole works.Another has been the rise or return of two-party competitionfor control of the institution.For about 50 years after the New Deal,

    • 03:11

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: Democrats were the nation's majority Congress.Only two Congresses, after 1932 up through 1980,where Republicans had controlled either chamber of Congress.So you had this long stretch of timewhere Democrats were more or less the party of state,and Republicans saw themselves as out of the running.

    • 03:33

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: That they wouldn't be able to win a majority and Democratswere secure in their majorities.Since 1980, parties have alternated in majority status.In the Senate, party control has switched seven timessince 1980.

    • 03:53

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: In the House, there haven't been as many switches,but the prospect has always been there of a change.Margins of control have been very narrow.So why does this matter?It means that members are more conscious of how issues affect

    • 04:14

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: how the parties are perceived.So there is much more considerationof the partisan ramifications of the issues,considering that party controlledCongress hangs in the balance.This has turned the parties in Congressinto fundraising machines as they raise more and more money

    • 04:34

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: in order to affect the outcomes in the swing statesin districts that determine which party will controlthe chamber of Congress.It has led to leaders prevailing upon rank and filemembers of Congress to pony up and to raise moneyfor the party.And if you expect to rise into leadership positions,you have to contribute and you have

    • 04:56

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: to help the party in its collective effortto maintain control.So it shaped both politics and campaigns.One of the factors that led to the nationalizationof congressional elections.It used to be that congressional elections were just notthat interesting nationally.Meaning that it didn't matter who won a Minnesota State

    • 05:20

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: Senate seat, or it didn't matter whichway things might go in the 3rd district of California,or whatever.But now it matters for everybody across the country,and money flows in from across the countryinto these competitive districts becauseof national consequences.When party control is not up for grabs,

    • 05:41

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: there aren't national consequencesin the same way for congressional elections.Speaking to the tension between Congressas a lawmaking body and Congress as a representative body.

    • 06:02

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: This tension present dilemmas for individual membersof Congress on an ongoing basis.And individual member as a lawmakerhas to know a lot about public policy.Has to have ideas about how to changepublic policy to make improvementsfor the American people.Has to be able to get other members to share

    • 06:27

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: his or her views on the issues.Has to work with outside groups and affected intereststo get them on board to build these coalitions.Has to shepherd successfully bills into laws.As a representative, a member of Congresshas to maintain political support in the constituency

    • 06:50

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: that elected him or her.That means face time.It means making yourself accessible and availableto constituents.It means shaking hands.It means being in the community for events.It means interfacing with constituents regularly.

    • 07:10

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: And it means travel back to the district that you represent,being away from Washington.So the tensions between these two are first and foremost justa matter of time.You can spend all of your time doing one of those activities--lawmaking or representation.But, of course, a member has to do both

    • 07:31

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: and has to somehow find a balance between the two.Has to be able to be an effective legislatoras well as maintain support back in the constituency.An example of a member who was notsuccessful in maintaining that balancewas former representative Eric Cantor of Virginia.

    • 07:54

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: He was of significant talent as a legislator.He had risen to the top of the Republican House RepublicanParty.He was seen as someone uniquely giftedat being able to bring party colleagues togetherand to get them together on issues,

    • 08:14

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: to help the party advance a common message.But, in the process of doing those activities-- coordinatingthe party and also raising money for the partyoutside of Virginia, across the country--he lost touch with constituents back home.

    • 08:38

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: They complained about the infrequencywith which he held town hall eventsand made himself available to constituents.And he had become increasingly unpopular.Another source of that unpopularity,or the difficulty that he was having balancing his two roles,

    • 08:59

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: is that what it takes to lead the RepublicanParty in Congress, to get them on board with the oppositionand to advance an issue given the law-making process,you have to have something that Republicansfrom across the country can support.

    • 09:21

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: Well that might not be the preferred positionof your constituents in a very conservative Virginia district.And so he had to compromise within the Republican Partyto get something through as a leaderthat constituents back home are not comfortable with.This was a difficult balancing act, and in the end

    • 09:44

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: he wasn't successful in maintaining itand he lost his party's nominationin a Republican primary in the summer of 2014.One of the most interesting developments

    • 10:04

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: in the contemporary Congress is rising party conflict.What this means is that the parties come into conflictwith one another more frequently and the two partiesare more internally cohesive.So that the parties vote together--fellow partisans vote together on controversial issuesto a much greater extent than they used to.

    • 10:26

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: In the '50s, '60s, and '70s, the typical memberof the House and the Senate wouldvote with his or her party on controversial issuesabout 60% of the time.In the 1980s, members of Congresswould vote with their parties on controversial issuesabout 70% of the time.

    • 10:47

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: In the 1990s, it was about 80% of the time.Since 2000, it's been above 85% of the time.So the steady rise in internal party cohesion and, of course,regular conflict between the partieson a wide range of issues.

    • 11:09

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: Now what has caused this rising conflictbetween the parties, and what has made the party moreinternally cohesive?There's a large literature in the field on thisand scholars have not fully accounted for the change.But some factors that have been important in these developments

    • 11:30

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: include, for one, change in voter behavior.There's been a decline of split-ticket voting.Split-ticket voting is when a voterchooses members of different parties for different offices.So you might go for a Republican for Presidentbut then a Democrat for Congress.They do that much less frequently now

    • 11:51

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: than they used to.Voters are more reliable in their partisan behavior.Now, what this means is that members of Congressdon't experience as much partisan cross-pressureas they used to in dealing with their constituents.That they know that there's a reliable-- if they'reRepublican-- they know there's a reliable Republican majority

    • 12:12

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: in their constituency.If you're a Democrat, there's a reliable Democraticconstituency.And so they have much less need to tryto balance-- to try to work across party linesto show that they represent members of both parties,instead of just the party that primarily elected them.So decline in split-ticket voting is a factor.

    • 12:34

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: Second key factor is regional realignment.The one key reason why the parties were less cohesivethroughout much of the 20th centurywas that the South was one-party Democratic.Virtually every member of Congress-- House and Senate--

    • 12:56

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: from the South was from the Democratic party.But they were distinctive in that theywere more conservative than the National Democratic Party.So you had a large cadre of Democratswho needed for their political survivalto maintain distance between themselves and the NationalDemocratic Party.

    • 13:17

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: You also had a parallel group of liberal Republicans,primarily from the Northeast.In the 1950s, the Northeast was a Republican region,but the Republicans from that regionwere more liberal than the National Republican Party.So within both parties, you had heterogeneous elements.

    • 13:40

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: And that meant that within both parties,you had a decent-sized group of memberswho wanted to work across party linesin order to show that they were different from the mainstreamof their parties.But as the South realigned, as it firstwent from being one-party Democratic to two-party

    • 14:01

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: competitive in the 1980s.And then after the 1990s, one-party Republican--it's not entirely one-party Republican, I'dsay Republican-dominant.You don't have that same heterogeneous elementwithin the Democratic Party that used to have.Democrats are Democrats, no matter where they're from.

    • 14:23

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: And the same is true of Republicans.And so this makes working across party linesmore difficult because they are not very manymembers who have any political incentiveto try to distance themselves from their own partiesin the way that had been the case throughout a lotof the 20th century.

    • 14:48

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: The legislative process is laid out in the Constitution.In order for a bill to become a law,it requires the passage of both the House and Senate,in identical form, signature by the President.Or if the President doesn't sign the bill and ops to veto it,

    • 15:12

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: Congress can override the veto by a two-thirds majorityof House and Senate.So that's the constitutional legislative process.Within that description, there aremany different legislative processes.In other words, there's a lot of different waysto get from here to there.Meaning that there's not just one set of steps

    • 15:36

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: that a bill follows.There are many different ways in whichmembers can meet the constitutional requirementsfor law-making.And there's a lot of change.It's not just a matter of change in the rules of Houseand Senate.Though the Constitution empowers both House and Senate to writetheir own rules for proceeding.But even within that, there's just

    • 15:57

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: change in how the two bodies operate internally.You often hear members of Congresstoday complain about the so-called declineof the regular order.And what do they mean by that?They mean that the legislative process has changed,and it's changed in a way that has empowered central partyleaders.

    • 16:18

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: So the Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader of the House,the party leaders in the Senate, has empowered themat the expense of chairman of committees and the committeeprocesses.That members of committees can no longersort of assume that the deals that get worked out

    • 16:39

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: in the context of the committee won't be revisited elsewhere.In fact, what tends to happen now is that most lawmaking thatoccurs, the leadership play a central rolein brokering the agreements.So what happens in committee doesn't necessarilydetermine the final outcome legislation.

    • 16:60

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: So the process has changed.The regular order.Now "regular order" also refers to the ability of rank and filemembers to have input on the floor.When House members complain about the declineof regular order in the House, theyare complaining about the lack of opportunities

    • 17:23

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: to offer amendments.The adoption of rules that limit their ability to have input.In the Senate, it has meant ad-hoc processesis where the leadership restrict the ability of Senatorsto offer amendments.So the legislative process has evolved in a mannerthat's more centralized, more top-down

    • 17:45

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: and that offers less opportunity for individual membersto have influence.So this is changing the legislative process.That's occurred without changing the Constitution, or evenin many cases any changes in the rules

    • 18:07

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: of the chambers themselves.This is just how things work.And so we also think about that as partof what we mean by understanding the legislative process.It is a huge question.And in fact, when we teach our courses on legislative process,they last 15 weeks, and there's a lot to cover.

    • 18:38

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: One of the most interesting debatesover a piece of legislation in recent years, for me,was watching the 2011 debt limit increase, the summer of 2011.This is a particularly interesting and contentiouspiece of legislation, because, first of all,

    • 18:60

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: there was a real deadline.Meaning that Congress needed to act to deal with the problembefore the Treasury ran out of the abilityto borrow money to pay the nation's bills.The debt limit is capped by statute, meaning

    • 19:22

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: that the Treasury can only borrow upto a set amount of money before itneeds to come back to Congress for additional authorityto borrow more.And with the debt limit looming, Congressneeded to act to raise the debt limit otherwisethe Treasury would wind up in a situation

    • 19:43

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: where it wouldn't have enough moneyto pay the nation's bills.To pay its creditors, to pay social security recipients,to pay its employees.So it was a hard deadline.But then, in 2011, you had a large groupof newly elected members of Congresswho had come in promising to get the nation's debt under control

    • 20:04

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: and to never raise the debt limit.It was an was the irresistible forceagainst the immovable object.How was this going to get resolved?And, of course, it did come right down to the wire.Congress eventually did raise the debt limit in exchangefor imposing a set of spending limits

    • 20:26

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: on domestic discretionary spending.Set a spending limit in the Budget Control Act of 2011that also raised the debt limit.And of course since that time-- ithas been a very significant piece of legislation--in that since that time, Congresshas struggled to stay within the limits

    • 20:47

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: that it had set for itself.So it was an interesting-- it wasa dramatic legislative moment, just for someonewatching and interested in national affairs.It was also interesting in that it illuminatessome aspects of the legislative process as it works today.One, the tendency towards brinksmanship.

    • 21:11

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: The need for deadlines in order to act at all.The central role of the party leadersin negotiating outcomes that occur.And finally, issues just don't go away.So all the issues that were handled in the 2011 BudgetControl Act have continued to vex Congress and have

    • 21:35

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: continued to be contentious.Nothing ever really gets finally resolved,legislation happens, but it's provisionaland it has to be revisited again.One of the most significant changes in congressional rules,

    • 21:56

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: recent changes in congressional rules,is 2013 change that allows a simple majority in the Senateto stop debate on presidential nominations.So what that means in practice isthat it's now possible for presidentsto get their nominations through the Senatewith a simple majority as opposed

    • 22:16

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: to a 60-vote majority, which is otherwisenecessary for stopping debate on legislation.This has made it easier for presidents to gettheir nominations through.It's still a contentious and difficult process,it could still be very time consuming,but a simple majority can rule.This is a big shift from how things havebeen operating in recent years.

    • 22:38

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: In understanding the rules of the Congress,it's important to not just to focus on the formal rules--the rules that members adopt via resolution inside the chamber--but instead to think about how informal practices evolve.The role of leaders.

    • 22:58

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: So when for example Speaker Boehnercame to power, when he took the gavel from Nancy Pelosi,he promised to run the House in a more open mannerthan had been the case with his predecessor.And initially, that was the case.He brought a spending bill to the floor, under an open rule,and there was free wheeling debate and many amendments

    • 23:21

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: offered.But over time, Boehner has had to crack downon the process in the same way that his predecessors had to.It became difficult for him to continueto try to lead the House in such an open manner.So more legislation comes to the floor under what

    • 23:43

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: are known as closed rules, now.And in fact, the last Congress set a recordfor the largest percentage of bills coming to the floorunder closed rules.The use of closed rules allows leaders

    • 24:04

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: to structure the process and but itlimits the opportunities for individual membersto have input.There's a similar story on the Senate sidein that when leader McConnell took over as Majority Leaderwith the start of the current 105th Congress,he promised that his goal was to get the Senate running again

    • 24:27

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: and to return the Senate to the old ways of doing business,to open the process up.And in fact, he did do show that it was more open.There have been many more votes on amendments under McConnellthan there had been under his immediate predecessor HarryReid.And yet, over time-- and where we are at this point

    • 24:51

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: is just nine months into the new Congress--it's already been necessary for him to crack downand to limit access to the floor.Don't need to go into the technical details of howhe does so, but he's using maneuvers that

    • 25:13

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: control the floor and do not allow individual senatorsto offer amendments.So leaders come to power promising more openness,but then wind up not being able to sustain it.So why is that?It's because there is a great deal of push and pullin terms of what members expect from their leaders.They want an opportunity to have input, but on the other hand,

    • 25:38

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: they also want to be protected from the difficult issuesthat they are forced to take votes on when the process iswide open.And so then they come back to the leaders and ask for help.And more control over the process.And so leaders have to respond to the buffeting.And so a great deal of the story of changing rules

    • 26:00

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: is just these changing informal practices, where it's notthat the Congress steps in and says,we're going to do things differently,we're going to write a new rule book.They just work differently within the existing rules.

    • 26:21

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: The relationship between the White House and Congressis a contentious relationship.It has always been so.It was difficult for the first Presidentin dealing with Congress.The presidents always have difficulty with Congress.This is even true when presidentsare of the same party that controls Congress.In other words, under conditions of whatwe termed unified government, meaning that the same party

    • 26:43

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: controls both branches.Still a difficult relationship.It's even more difficult, however,under conditions of divided government, whichis the normal state of affairs in contemporary Americanpolitics.Since 1980, the government's been dividedthree-quarters of the time.And what this means in practice isthat presidents have a great deal of difficulty getting

    • 27:05

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: their initiatives through Congress, gettingtheir nominations through Congress.Working with Congress on foreign policy,or on matters where presidents have discretion,Congress is holding the administration's feetto the fire and investigating them at every turn.So it's a difficult relationship under divided government

    • 27:28

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: because in addition to the divergent preferences on policythat characterize the two parties,there are political incentives to disagree.The Congress wants to highlight the ways in which the president

    • 27:48

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: isn't doing a good job, so as to makea case for a change of party control in the presidency.So you layer those political incentiveson top of the different preferences on policythat the two parties have.And you've got a recipe for a great deal of difficultyin the relationship between the President and the Congress

    • 28:11

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: under contemporary conditions.Theory is very important for understanding Congress.It's important for science more broadly.It's how we can understand the world.It gives us rules of thumb, or focuses our attention

    • 28:34

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: on key concepts or key factors that are thencritical for other issues-- for institutional development,for members' behavior, for lawmaking, for the resolutionof difficult questions.

    • 28:57

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: So theory helps organize our understanding of the world.In terms of the theorists who havebeen influential in my thinking about Congress,I'd list at the top on David Mayhew,whose book The Electoral Connection helped give us

    • 29:17

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: a lot of intellectual traction on bothhow individual members behave, as well as how the institutionitself operates.I'd also flag the work of David Brady and Joe Cooperin helping us understand when party leaders will be powerfuland when they won't be powerful.

    • 29:39

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: To understand why the role of leadersdiffer so much in different eras of congressional history.Their theory gave us traction on that.David Rohde developed that theory furtherwith that what's known as the theory of conditional partygovernment.But I don't want to say that theory is the sine qua

    • 30:00

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: non of good political science.There is a great deal of political science.It's important primarily for just shedding clear lighton how the institution operates.Empirically.How does it work.And here I'd class the work of Richard [INAUDIBLE].

    • 30:22

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: He's not as known for a particular set of theoriesand he is for describing it in a highly insightful way howCongress works, how representation works,how committees work, how the appropriations process works.And I wouldn't want to devalue that role of scholarship.

    • 30:47

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: So scholarship is both theory building, theory testing.But it's also just in the quest ofclear empirical understanding, insight, and description.

    • 31:08

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: Well, one particularly contentious issuein scholarship on the U.S. Congressfocuses on the role of party.How important are parties in congress?On the one hand, parties organize the Congress.Everything about how the Congress is structured

    • 31:28

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: is shaped by party.The majority party leads the Congress,leads each chamber of Congress.It staffs the leadership positionsall throughout the institution.Every committee in Congress is chaired by a memberof the majority party.So party is unquestionably importantin that organizational sense.

    • 31:49

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: There's a lot of debate over how influential party leaders arein whipping members of Congress, to get them to go alongwith the party's position.Are they able to do that?What are the carrots and sticks that they actuallyhave at their disposal?In fact, they are quite limited in what they have to work withto get members on board.

    • 32:11

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: And if you look at how the legislative process works,yes, it is organized by the majority party.But the minority party has a role.It has a lot of rights.It's not the case that the minority is just shunted aside.It has ability to offer amendments, it has staff.

    • 32:36

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: It has an ability to call witnesses at hearings.So clearly the majority party wantsat some level to hear from the minority party.There's the issue of public legitimacyof the legislative process.But it's also the case that the minority--the role of the minority plays in the legislative processhelps to inform the majority party

    • 32:58

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: about the nature of the issues.Where are the sources of controversy?What are the objections that people have to our initiatives?The majority party can learn from the minority party,and so the process is not organized to the exclusionof the minority party.

    • 33:20

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: And so the process also has an informational rolein illuminating issues so that members betterunderstand the consequences of what they're thinking of doingwhen they're making laws.So scholars debate these different perspectivesin terms of how important is party in structuring Congressand in driving institutional development over time,

    • 33:42

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: with scholars taking different positions on the issues.And debate sometimes can get quite heated.But these competing points of vieware really critical to scholarshipbecause we learn from that competition.It flushes out the issues.Our understanding is enhanced via scholarly debate

    • 34:04

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: rather than it simply reflecting the extent to which oneside failed to establish to full satisfactionthat its view prevails.That's rarely how scholarship advances.Scholarship advances via debate.

    • 34:32

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: Rigorous research methods are the gold standard.You want to be as rigorous as possibleand as you conduct analysis of Congress.You want to bring to bear systematic datato the maximum extent feasible.Unfortunately, there are many questionsfor which systematic data are really not available.

    • 34:55

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: Political scientists have a tendencyto gravitate towards the study of thingsthat can be counted because the most rigorous sort of methodscan only be employed with quantitative data.But it's important also to consult perspectives.The perspectives of members, of congressional insiders.

    • 35:18

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: What they say in interviews with researchers, with the press,in the congressional record.We have to attend to the qualitative side as well.So my view on research methodologyis an inclusive one.The idea is to get as much by way of different kinds of data

    • 35:42

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: to bear on your question as possible.So that's what I try to do in my own work.And I've collected quantitative dataon roll call voting, on federal expendituresacross the country, on staffing, on the frequencyof caucus meetings.Anything that we can document systematically,

    • 36:04

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: it's ideal to do so.But there are many questions where that's not feasible.If you want to understand strategic behavior in Congress,the only way to understand strategyis to ask members about how they understand their options,and why they chose one course of action as opposed to another.

    • 36:27

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: Their perspective has to be consulted.And so that's not something where you can justcompile quantitative data easily,but it's just as essential.So an inclusive approach to data and data analysisis the way to gain a full understanding of Congress.

    • 36:54

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: There's a lot of interesting new work ongoing.I'll just flag a couple of different areaswhere I've found scholarship particularly exciting.I like a lot of the recent work on political ambitionlooking at who runs for office and why they run.What factors have shaped their propensity

    • 37:15

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: to make a bid for office?I like the work of Richard Fox and Jennifer Lawlessespecially as it sheds light on the reasonswhy women are underrepresented in Congress.I also like the recent work by Danielle Thomsen lookingat how ideological fit with the partyaffects a candidate's decision about whether or not to run.

    • 37:38

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: As members of the State Legislatureconsider the prospect of making a bid for Congress,they consider how they would fit in with the partyin Washington.And if they would be out of step with the party,they are less likely to run.Those are interesting new lines of research.

    • 38:00

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: I like the new work on parties as networks and partiesof coalitions of intense demanders.It's a new way of thinking about political parties.Not just as office holders or peoplewho are formally affiliated with a political party,but with all of the interest groups and organizations that

    • 38:22

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: are allied with the parties, thatare part of the parties' political networks.And to think about the push and pull overnominations and platforms that occurs among these affiliatedgroups."Affiliated" is not really the right word.More like allied groups.Because it's not a formal affiliation.

    • 38:42

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: These are informal relationships,and yet, they're powerful influences on the party.In recent years, I've been workingon the topic of renewed competition

    • 39:04

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: for party control of Congress.I think it's a really critical changein the contemporary Congress, relative to what we might thinkof as the textbook Congress of the 20th century,that party control is up for grabs in an ongoing way.Basically, 30 years of steady competition

    • 39:25

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: for control of Congress.From the vantage point of the Senate, it's been 30 years.From the vantage point of the House,at least since 1994, I would date back earlierthan that, as Republicans got organizedto try to win control of Congress, which they finallysucceeded in doing in the 1994 elections.Consider how this changes what parties do.

    • 39:49

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: The greater focus on party messaging.The rise of parties and public relations operations,in both chambers of Congress, in both parties.The more frequent staging of votesfor the purposes of highlighting the differencesbetween the parties.My view is very closely tied to this competitionfor majority control.It didn't exist in the same way in the 1960s and '70s,

    • 40:14

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: where the Democrats were seen as sort of a permanent majorityand Republicans a permanent minority.And so I've been pursuing this theme and working on thisand working on a book on this subject.One that draws a wide range of different kindsof data, historical data, memoirs of members of Congress,a lot of interviews with longtime Washington insiders.

    • 40:37

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: Data on the frequency with which partiesare meeting, how much money they're raising for candidates.The development of partisan PR operations.The hiring of huge numbers of staffers whose jobit is to be communicators.There didn't used to be a large staff of communicatorsworking for the Congress as there currently is.

    • 41:00

      FRANCES LEE [continued]: So those are some themes topics that I've been exploringin my own research recently.


View Segments Segment :


Professor Frances Lee discusses the United States Congress and its role in government. The Congress is made up of elected representatives from geographic constituencies and is a bicameral body, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Lee discusses party conflicts, the legislative process, and her own work in the field.

SAGE Video Experts

Professor Frances Lee discusses the United States Congress and its role in government. The Congress is made up of elected representatives from geographic constituencies and is a bicameral body, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Lee discusses party conflicts, the legislative process, and her own work in the field.

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website

Back to Top