Political Science 540, American National Institutions, Spring 2000

Prof. Frank Baumgartner


Questions and discussion topics for week 6, February 12:


Readings: Various articles on committees, Krehbiel, Pivotal Politics


Choose one of these topics for a five page paper if you choose to do one this week. In any case, come to class prepared to discuss the following:


  1. Explain the logic of the distributional view of committees. Explain the logic of the party-centered view. Why would the parties allow the committees to deviate from their preferred policies? Why would the chamber as a whole allow a subset to deviate?
  2. Explain and evaluate the evidence used in this debate.
  3. Review the evidence presented in the JOP paper. What is the significance of studying issues rather than studying committees as most have done?
  4. Note the reliance on roll-call voting studies. Suggest alternatives and the relative merits of studying these issues with other methods.
  5. Krehbiel’s more recent book provides a general theory of the impact of institutional rules on congressional behavior. Evaluate the usefulness of the theory.
  6. Krehbiel is always careful with his methods. Evaluate his evidence. What more could one do to test this theory?