• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

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.

Member Goals and Committee Assignments
Member goals and committee assignments

In 1981 Rep. Jim Wright of Texas was the Democratic majority leader, chief lieutenant, and heir apparent to Speaker of the House Thomas P. “Tip” O'Neill of Massachusetts. By virtue of his position as majority leader, Wright also served as the vice-chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee—the group of Democrats charged with placing their party's members on the various committees. During this process—one that can create ingrates and enemies just as easily as friends—Wright made a fateful decision. Phil Gramm, a conservative, second-term Democrat and fellow Texan, wanted to join the Budget Committee. Wright decided to back his candidacy even though other, more liberal members of the Steering Committee vigorously opposed the appointment. Although ...

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