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Are Congressional Committees Composed of Preference Outliers?


  • Krehbiel, Keith


A diverse set of congressional studies portrays members of standing committees as more or less homogeneous “high demanders†or “preference outliers†relative to members of the larger legislature. Using interest group ratings of members of the Ninety-sixth to Ninety-ninth Congresses, I conduct conventional statistical hypothesis tests to discern whether standing committees are more extreme and more homogeneous than the legislature as a whole. With only a few exceptions, the tests do not allow confident rejection of null hypotheses of identical committee and chamber preferences. The absence of convincing evidence of preference outliers is broadly consistent with emerging incomplete information game-theoretic legislative research and difficult to reconcile with many previous formal theories of legislative politics.

Suggested Citation

  • Krehbiel, Keith, 1990. "Are Congressional Committees Composed of Preference Outliers?," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 84(1), pages 149-163, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:84:y:1990:i:01:p:149-163_19

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    Cited by:

    1. Keith Krehbiel, 2004. "Legislative Organization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 113-128, Winter.
    2. Bernard Caillaud & Jean Tirole, 2007. "Consensus Building: How to Persuade a Group," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1877-1900, December.
    3. Battaglini, Marco & Lai, Ernest K. & Lim, Wooyoung & Wang, Joseph Tao-Yi, 2019. "The Informational Theory of Legislative Committees: An Experimental Analysis," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 113(1), pages 55-76, February.
    4. Frisell, Lars, 2000. "Taking Advice from Imperfectly Informed Lobbyists: When to Match Hawks with Hawks," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 355, Stockholm School of Economics.
    5. Steffen Hurka, 2013. "Changing the output: The logic of amendment success in the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee," European Union Politics, , vol. 14(2), pages 273-296, June.
    6. Amy McKay, 2008. "A simple way of estimating interest group ideology," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 136(1), pages 69-86, July.
    7. Daniel Lee, 2008. "Going once, going twice, sold! The committee assignment process as an all-pay auction," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 237-255, June.
    8. Franklin G. Mixon & Amanda C. Pagels, 2007. "Are Congressional Black Caucus Members More Reliable? Loyalty Screening and Committee Assignments of Newly Elected Legislators," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 413-431, April.
    9. Porter, Mason A. & Mucha, Peter J. & Newman, M.E.J. & Friend, A.J., 2007. "Community structure in the United States House of Representatives," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 386(1), pages 414-438.
    10. Jieun Lee & Iain Osgood, 2019. "Exports, jobs, growth! Congressional hearings on US trade agreements," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(1), pages 1-26, March.
    11. Mathias Dewatripont & Jean Tirole, 1999. "Advocates," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-39, February.
    12. Raphaël Godefroy, 2010. "The birth of the congressional clinic," Working Papers halshs-00564921, HAL.
    13. Meri Davlasheridze & Qing Miao, 2019. "Does Governmental Assistance Affect Private Decisions to Insure? An Empirical Analysis of Flood Insurance Purchases," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 95(1), pages 124-145.
    14. Brian Knight, 2004. "Bargaining in Legislatures: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 10530, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Ashutosh Thakur, 2021. "Matching Politicians to Committees," ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series 088, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.
    16. Mattias K. Polborn & Gerald Willmann, 2009. "Optimal agenda-setter timing," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1527-1546, November.
    17. Christopher Berry, 2008. "Piling On: Multilevel Government and the Fiscal Common‐Pool," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 52(4), pages 802-820, October.
    18. Ambrus, Attila & Azevedo, Eduardo M. & Kamada, Yuichiro & Takagi, Yuki, 2013. "Legislative committees as information intermediaries: A unified theory of committee selection and amendment rules," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 103-115.
    19. Klaas J. Beniers & Otto H. Swank, 2003. "On the Composition of Committees," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-006/1, Tinbergen Institute.

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