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Committee Assignment Politics in the U.S. House of by Scott A. Frisch

By Scott A. Frisch

During this groundbreaking paintings, Scott A. Frisch and Sean Q Kelly draw on major new info from congressional archives—gleaned from the papers of either Democratic and Republican leaders from the eighty fifth to the 103rd Congress—to display the complicated approach in which congressional participants get assigned to the robust committees of the home. They finish that events vary of their committee task equipment and that occasion techniques can switch over the years reckoning on management. additionally they pay specific cognizance to the expanding roles of race and gender within the task process.Based on large fundamental and secondary learn, this quantity fills a very important hole in our knowing of the inner dynamics of the yankee political approach.

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We believe that changes in Congress over time have shaped the committee assignment processes in important ways. Thus, our research design is also diachronic. Committee Assignment Request Data Much of the analysis that follows is based on examination of the committee requests of individual members of Congress. Our data include both the briefing books used by the party committees on committees during the actual assignment process and the preference letters submitted to the committees on committees from individual members, explaining, in many cases, why they are seeking membership on a particular committee.

Masters’ conclusions are not surprising: “This [structure] concentrates the power over committee ASSIGNMENT PROCESS AND PROCESS CHANGE 41 assignments in the hands of the senior members from the large state delegations” (1961, 348). 5 The appointments made by the Republican leader kept the committee assignment process firmly in the grip of the states of the Midwest and Northeast, in addition to California accounting for the apparent voting power of the West in the committee. Indeed, only two of the votes (out of ninety-nine) in the RCC were granted to states outside this power nexus (one each to Idaho and North Carolina), and those two votes were intended to represent the interests of more than one-third of the Republican Conference, mainly southern and western states.

Margulies captures nicely the creation of the Republicans’ committee assignment process: Mann perpetrated a coup against his tormentors. Gillett’s manager, Samuel Winslow of Massachusetts, offered a resolution for the election of a seventeen-member Committee on Committees, consisting of some Mann allies but chiefly Gillett people. Mann was ready with a substitute. Each of the thirty-six Republican state delegations should elect a member of the Committee on Committees, presumably the head of the delegation.

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