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 the context of the “Contract with America,” Republican reforms, and the inter-party warfare on Capitol Hill.

Evolution and Change in Committees

Evolution and change in committees

Between 1774 and 1788, the Continental Congress of the United States created more than 3,200 committees to aid in the transaction of its legislative business and run the affairs of government.1 Since that time additional thousands of committees, subcommittees, joint committees, and other panels have come and gone. Even before the first American political parties had emerged, Congress was organizing its activity and augmenting its sometimes rudimentary structure by the addition of numerous subunits. From the Revolutionary War Claims Committee to Veterans’ Affairs, from Levees and Improvements on the Mississippi River through Pacific Railroads to Aeronautics and Astronautics, the development of committees reflects our own national development.

In this chapter we address evolution and change in Congress's ...

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