• 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.

Committees in the Postreform Congress
Committees in the postreform congress

Committees do not operate in a vacuum. Indeed, it should be clear that committees, whether more or less autonomous, are inextricably entwined with their parent chambers. But what is the character of this relationship? How has it changed, and what does that mean for the power of committees? In the previous chapter we saw that full committees in both the House and Senate lost power in the aftermath of the reforms of the early 1970s.1 In the House, power shifted to subcommittees while in the Senate it devolved to the rank-and-file members. In both chambers we observed a decentralization of power. But we also observed in Chapter 4 that a countertrend has since developed with very ...

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