Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst
Congress in its committee-rooms is Congress at work.
Writing while still a postgraduate student, President Woodrow
Wilson commented, ‘Congressional government is committee
government’. Committees are the engine rooms of Congress.
In order to become law, every piece of legislation must ultimately face a vote in the chambers of House and Senate,
but it is in the committee rooms that nearly all proposals
take shape and where most proposals die. This chapter
The role of the Congress is essential to any study of American government and politics. It would be impossible to gain a complete understanding of the American system of government without an appreciation of the nature and workings of this essential body. This text looks at the workings of the United States Congress, and uses the Republican period of ascendancy, which lasted from 1994 until 2000, as an example of how the Congress works in practice. The book illustrates the basic principles of Congress using contemporary and recent examples, while also drawing attention to the changes that took place in the 1990s. The period of Republican control is absent from many of the standard texts and is of considerable academic interest for a number of reasons, not least the 1994 election, the budget deadlock in 1995 and the Clinton impeachment scandal of 1999. The book traces the origin and development of the United States Congress, before looking in depth at the role of representatives and senators, the committee system, parties in Congress, and the relationship between Congress and the President, the media and interest groups.
Committee affords an interesting insight into how effectiveness was defined
by other political actors at the time, and how they perceived the need to
enhance the position of the House of Commons. One particular discussion
that framed the Procedure Committee’s enquiry was that regarding the merits
of a comprehensive Commons committeesystem. Just as there had been an
attempt in 1931 to pull Britain from depression by means of a new approach
to government – the National Government – so too was there a growing
Effectiveness in the House of Commons 1900
Over more than thirty years of reform and opening, the Chinese Communist Party has pursued the gradual marketization of China’s economy alongside the preservation of a resiliently authoritarian political system, defying long-standing predictions that ‘transition’ to a market economy would catalyse deeper political transformation. In an era of deepening synergy between authoritarian politics and finance capitalism, Communists constructing capitalism offers a novel and important perspective on this central dilemma of contemporary Chinese development. This book challenges existing state–market paradigms of political economy and reveals the Eurocentric assumptions of liberal scepticism towards Chinese authoritarian resilience. It works with an alternative conceptual vocabulary for analysing the political economy of financial development as both the management and exploitation of socio-economic uncertainty. Drawing upon extensive fieldwork and over sixty interviews with policymakers, bankers, and former party and state officials, the book delves into the role of China’s state-owned banking system since 1989. It shows how political control over capital has been central to China’s experience of capitalist development, enabling both rapid economic growth whilst preserving macroeconomic and political stability. Communists constructing capitalism will be of academic interest to scholars and graduate students in the fields of Chinese studies, social studies of finance, and international and comparative political economy. Beyond academia, it will be essential reading for anyone interested in the evolution of Chinese capitalism and its implications for an increasingly central issue in contemporary global politics: the financial foundations of illiberal capitalism.
Does European integration contribute to, or even accelerate, the erosion of intra-party democracy? This book is about improving our understanding of political parties as democratic organisations in the context of multi-level governance. It analyses the impact of European Union (EU) membership on power dynamics, focusing on the British Labour Party, the French Socialist Party (PS), and the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). The purpose of this book is to investigate who within the three parties determines EU policies and selects EU specialists, such as the candidates for European parliamentary elections and EU spokespersons. The book utilises a principal-agent framework to investigate the delegation of power inside the three parties across multiple levels and faces. It draws on over 65 original interviews with EU experts from the three national parties and the Party of European Socialists (PES) and an e-mail questionnaire. This book reveals that European policy has largely remained in the hands of the party leadership. Its findings suggest that the party grassroots are interested in EU affairs, but that interest rarely translates into influence, as information asymmetry between the grassroots and the party leadership makes it very difficult for local activists to scrutinise elected politicians and to come up with their own policy proposals. As regards the selection of EU specialists, such as candidates for the European parliamentary elections, this book highlights that the parties’ processes are highly political, often informal, and in some cases, undemocratic.
Commons by parliamentarians themselves, analysis that culminated in the conclusion that the
select committeesystem had to be strengthened significantly in its relationship with the executive, and which was an extension of the same conclusions
reached in the late 1970s. The calls for reform in the 1930s and 1960s were
prompted largely (although not exclusively) by specifically exogenous events
– political and economic crises. In contrast, the calls for reform from 1999
onwards were prompted by events endogenous to parliament, mainly the
long-standing strife between the
Effectiveness in the House of Commons
In the period after 1997, the debate surrounding the need to improve the
effectiveness of the Commons select committeesystem assumed a new tone
with the creation of the Modernisation Committee. Examination of the events
surrounding the Committee’s attempt to reform the system provides a
valuable opportunity to explore the attitudinal and contextual approaches
noted in Chapter 2, and to probe further the explanatory utility of historical
Norton (2000) outlined three conditions that
Eliciting a response from the Irish parliament to European integration
clearly badly needed for many years, with no fewer
than eleven reports down through the years suggesting methodologies,26 reform
never occurred. Subsequently, the 2011–16 Coalition Government sought to abolish the Seanad entirely. Defeated in referendum,27 the Government commissioned
a further report: the Report of the Working Group On Seanad Reform 2015, which
seems likely to become the latest set of proposals to languish unimplemented.
A slow adaptor?
The construction of an adequately functioning committeesystem began late
and has proceeded slowly
had ‘solved the question of time by giving most of it to the
government to use as it pleases’. Amendments to government legislation
carried without the tacit approval of the government had become ‘extremely
rare’, and the standing committeesystem made it very hard for the House to
prevent the government securing its legislation (Lowell 1912, vol. 1: 317–8).
Yet despite such concerns, the reform impetus thereafter involved an
Efficiency in the House of Commons 1900–97
increased use of the standing committee structure for the purposes of legislative scrutiny
context it is essential to overcome diverging preferences within the negotiations through persuasion on the basis of
normative, or technical, arguments rather than through redistributive
The deliberative element, which is added to the Community method by
comitology, has been called ‘deliberative supranationalism’ (Joerges and
Neyer 1997b: 299). Alternatively, it is argued here that the work of the
Eurogroup constitutes a form of deliberative intergovernmentalism (see
also Puetter 2003). Policy deliberation within the committeesystem lends