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An Examination of Strategic Opportunities Provided by the Conference Committee Procedure in the U.S. Congress


Nagler, Jonathan (1989) An Examination of Strategic Opportunities Provided by the Conference Committee Procedure in the U.S. Congress. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/8ph9-cy05.


Deference to committees in Congress has been a much studied phenomena for close to 100 years. This deference can be characterized as the unwillingness of a potentially winning coalition on the House floor to impose its will on a small minority, a standing committee. The congressional scholar is then faced with two problems: observing such deference to committees, and explaining it. Shepsle and Weingast have proposed the existence of an ex-post veto for standing committees as an explanation of committee deference. They claim that as conference reports in the House and Senate are considered under a rule that does not allow amendments, the conferees enjoy agenda-setting power. In this paper I describe a test of such a hypothesis (along with competing hypotheses regarding the effects of the conference procedure). A random-utility model is utilized to estimate legislators' ideal points on appropriations bills from 1973 through 1980. I prove two things: 1) that committee deference can not be said to be a result of the conference procedure; and moreover 2) that committee deference does not appear to exist at all.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Social Science
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:Social Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Kiewiet, D. Roderick
Thesis Committee:
  • Kiewiet, D. Roderick (chair)
  • Rivers, Douglas
  • Rothenberg, Lawrence
  • Cain, Bruce E.
Defense Date:9 September 1988
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05312013-093144597
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7787
Deposited On:31 May 2013 20:05
Last Modified:14 Sep 2021 16:41

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