The impact of institutional design on deliberative assemblies
Carlsen, Paul David
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This dissertation asks four research questions. (1) Are legislative committees reflective of their parent chamber? (2) How do voting procedures impact legislative outcomes? (3) How does intraparty homogeneity and interparty conflict impact the rules under which legislation is debated and amended? (4) How do external factors impact the rules under which legislation is debated and amended? These questions are answered by exploring the institutional design of the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the U.S. House of Representatives from the 67th to the 109th U.S. Congresses (1921-2007). Assuming pure spatial voting, this dissertation reveals that five of the twelve committees at the Convention were not representative of the chamber – suggesting that delegates did not always shed their personnel interests in pursuit of the common good. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the Convention amended the report of outlying committees to be consistent with the preferences of the chamber. Furthermore, shifting from bloc voting to individual voting at the Convention would have only impacted the outcome of four roll calls at the Convention, which accounts for less than 1% of all roll calls. Regarding the modern House, analysis reveals that interparty conflict does impact the use of restrictive rules in the House, but the presence of unified government has only a conditional impact on the use of restrictive rules. This indicates that institutional design does have an impact on legislative outcomes, but individual preferences may have a larger impact.