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Party and Procedure in the United States Congress

Edited by Jacob R. Straus

Understanding how Congressional political parties utilize floor procedure to advance a legislative agenda is fundamental to understanding how Congress operates. This book offers students and researchers an in-depth understanding of the procedural tools available to congressional leaders and committee chairs and how those tools are implemented in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and during negotiations between the chambers. Divided into four sections (Leadership, House of Representatives, Senate, and Legislative Reconciliation between the Chambers), the contributors present relevant examples of procedure throughout the legislative process.

While other volumes provide the party or the procedural perspective, this book combines these two features to create a robust analysis on the role that party can play in making procedural decisions. Additionally, the contributors provide an opportunity to take a holistic look at Congress and understand the changing dynamics of congressional power and its implementation over time. A concluding chapter, “Legislative Sausage-Making: Health Care Reform in the 111th Congress,” summarizes the book’s major themes through an examination of this highly controversial legislative battle.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 308Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-1174-2 • eBook • March 2012 • $39.00 • (£24.95)

Jacob R. Straus is an analyst with the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress. His research focuses on Congress, lobbying and ethics, public policy and American political development.
Chapter 1: Navigating Congress by Jacob R. Straus
Chapter 2: Congressional Leadership: A Resource Perspective by Matthew Glassman
Chapter 3: Toppling the King of the Hill: Understanding Innovation in House Practice by James V. Saturno
Chapter 4: The Appropriations Process and Limitation Amendments: A Case Study on Party Politics and the House Floor by Jessica Tollestrup
Chapter 5: Minority Party Strategies and the Evolution of the Motion to Recommit in the U.S. House by Jennifer Hayes Clark
Chapter 6: Let’s Vote: The Rise and Impact of Roll Call Votes in the Age of Electronic Voting by Jacob R. Straus
Chapter 7: The Caucus Process as a Catalyst for Democracy by The Honorable Major R. Owens
Chapter 8: The Death of Deliberation: Party and Procedure in the Modern United States Senate by James Wallner
Chapter 9: Beyond Motions to Table: Exploring the Procedural Toolkit of the Majority Party in the United States Senate by Aaron S. King, Francis J. Orlando, and David W. Rohde
Chapter 10: Defense Authorization: The Senate’s Last Best Hope by Colleen J. Shogan
Chapter 11: Filibustering and Partisanship in the Modern Senate by Gregory Koger
Chapter 12: Ping Pong and Other Congressional Pursuits: Party Leaders and Post-Passage Procedural Choice by Barbara Sinclair
Chapter 13: Legislative Sausage-Making: Health Care Reform in the 111th Congress by Mark J. Oleszek and Walter J. Oleszek
About the Contributors
Party and Procedure in the United States Congress is a well written, carefully researched, rich exploration of the intersection of legislative politics and policymaking. Grounded in the authors’ experience, participant observation and case studies, the book makes wide-ranging use of the political science literature on Congress, thereby successfully bridging the divide between the theory and practice of congressional politics and policymaking.

The authors in Party and Procedure in the United States Congress, including some of the leading lights among Congress scholars, are literally close to their subject given their extensive experience, observations and interviews. The bicameral perspective will prove especially useful in college courses on Congress and the legislative process. The book underscores the time-honored truth that he who knows the rules, rules.

William F. Connelly, Jr., Washington and Lee University

These excellent readings shine a bright light into some shadowy places. Procedure is a vital but often-misunderstood aspect of congressional life, and this book does a splendid job of showing how the rules of the game both reflect and influence party politics on Capitol Hill. In reading Party and Procedure in the United States Congress, both general readers and scholars of Congress will learn much that they did not know, and encounter thought-provoking challenges to received wisdom.
John J. Pitney Jr., Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics, Claremont McKenna College

In this excellent volume, the authors use new empirical data and in-depth case studies to address a range of important questions about congressional parties, committees, and procedural innovations in both chambers. Undergraduates and congressional scholars alike will benefit from its compelling new insight.
Kathryn Pearson, University of Minnesota

Each work in this volume highlights the importance of procedural rules in a unique and intriguing manner...The power of this book is the way examinations of both narrow and broad uses of procedural rules are seamlessly woven together. Individually, each book chapter can stand on its own, but together these works paint a fascinating picture of the strategic use of procedural rules in the modern Congress.
APSA Legislative Studies Section Newsletter, Book Notes

For many scholars, trying to understand what Congress is doing and why it is doing it is a challenge. It is essential to understand the combined impact of political parties, organization, and the role and use of procedure. This volume provides an accessible and insightful set of essays that explain how political parties, institutional organization, and procedures such as roll call votes, the decline of deliberation in the Senate, the use of motions, and the filibuster in the Senate affect the functioning of Congress. The collection of essays, edited by Straus (analyst, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress), is organized in four sections: "Leadership," which includes a single essay; "The House of Representatives"; "Senate"; and "Legislative Reconciliation between the Chambers," which includes an essay about health care reform in the 111th Congress. The chapters are all clearly written and focus on important real-world examples. Summing Up: Highly recommended.

  • Examines the overall legislative process and the use of procedure in Congress

  • Analyzes the role played by individual members, the leadership, committees, political parties, and the House and Senate

  • Discusses minority legislative rights and the execution of those rights

  • Evaluates specific procedural tools (i.e., King of the Hill, motion to recommit, limitation amendments)

  • Draws conclusions on the historic effectiveness of procedural tools used by the majority and minority parties

Summarizes the legislative process for the passage of health care legislation in the 111th Congress and for the passage of the Defense Authorization Bill in 2010