Public policy and legislative choice
Brill, Daniel Joseph
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Current research on legislatures sees several competing schools of thought: distributive, informational, and partisan theories of legislative organization dominate the literature. This study contends that many of the differences between the contemporary theories can be resolved by accounting for the type of policy under consideration.|Chapter 3 of the study examines the creation of party leadership groups in the United States House of Representatives for the 94th through the 103rd Congresses. Most researchers have dismissed the creation of these groups as inconsequential and symbolic. The analysis presented herein finds otherwise. Using a Monte Carlo design, it concludes that the creation of the leadership groups is systematic. The floor median aims to create a leadership body that is representative of his preferences. The median voter is a member of the majority party. Hence he must temper his choices according to his party alignment. Ultimately, the median's true preferences are revealed toward the majority party's caucus median. In this case, the median voter selects a leadership cadre with an ideology somewhat to the left of his own. It is also found that the floor creates leadership groups that are ideologically homogeneous as opposed to covering a broad range of ideological positions. Additionally it is determined that the selection of the Speaker of the House does not follow an ideological pattern; the popular view that Speakers are chosen for charisma and competence rather than for ideological reasons is supported by the study.|Chapter 4 turns its attention to the dynamics of voting on the floor of the House. Adopting Lowi's typology of public policy (1964, 1972), and a variant of Kingdon's model of congressional voting (1989), policy motions from the 103rd Congress are grouped according to policy content. The votes are treated as dependent variables. Four groups of independent variables are used to model the dynamics of floor voting: committees, parties, ideology, and members' narrow, district-specific interests. The relative weight of the independent variables fluctuates according to the type of policy under consideration. These findings are taken as support of Lowi's thesis that different types of public policy produce different types of politics.