Congressional Caucuses in National Policymaking

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JHU Press, Oct 10, 2001 - Political Science - 272 pages

The names are familiar from the nightly news—the Senate Centrist Coalition, the Coalition (Blue Dogs), the Black Caucus. But what exactly are these groups, and what role do they play in congressional decision making? In Congressional Caucuses in National Policy Making Susan Webb Hammond describes and explains the role, activities, and influence of the groups known on Capitol Hill as "caucuses." Defined as voluntary groups of members of Congress that share interests, but which stand outside the formal legislative and policy making structure, caucuses are prime players in influencing policy and setting the legislative agenda.

Over the past five Congresses, Hammond counts the formation of more than 250 caucuses, varying widely in size and membership. They can be organized into six categories: party affiliation, personal interest, national constituency, regional issues, state interests, and district industrial interests. Within the caucuses, members share information, coordinate legislative plans, seek ways to influence colleagues, and even strategize on agenda setting. While the caucuses can contribute to greater coordination, efficiency, and even effective policy planning, Hammond finds that they also tend to fragment the congressional system, because they serve as alternative sources of information, communication, and voting coalitions outside the formal structure of Congress. In fact, caucuses have survived recent attempts at elimination by doing away with legislative service organizations.

 

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Contents

FIGURE
7
1 CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUSES AND CONGRESSIONAL
11
TABLES
13
3 WHY CAUCUSES ARE ESTABLISHED
36
4 THE LIFE CYCLE OF CAUCUSES
54
Ninetyseventh Congress
72
6 CAUCUSES AND THE NATIONAL AGENDA
80
7 CAUCUSES AND PARTY LEADERS
110
8 WORKING WITH THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH
131
9 WORKING WITH CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES
156
10 CAUCUSES AND CONGRESSIONAL FLOOR ACTION
179
11 THE 104TH CONGRESS AND BEYOND
209
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Page 247 - Committee," in Policy-making Role of Leadership in the Senate, papers prepared for the Commission on the Operation of the Senate, 94th Congress, 2d session, pp. 40-57. 15. Sundquist, Decline and Resurgence, p. 436. 16. Cf. Madison's speeches on August 7 and August 31 at the federal convention; his argument in Federalist No. 51 that a dependence on the people is the primary control on government; and his contention in No. 63...

About the author (2001)

Susan Webb Hammond is a professor of government at the American University. She is the co-author of Congressional Staffs: The Invisible Force in American Lawmaking.

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