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The Role of Political Parties in the Organization of Congress


  • John R. Boyce


This article examines theory and evidence on party competition in the U.S. Congress in the allocation of members to committees. Parties allocate members to committees to maximize the joint utility of its members, taking into account how the committees' memberships affect the legislation adopted by the legislature. Parties are constrained by both institutional rules and the heterogeneity of party members' preferences. Interest group ratings from the U.S. House of Representatives provide evidence that the parties stack committees in a manner consistent with the predictions of the theoretical model. Alternative hypotheses explain no more than half the committees in the U.S. Congress, while the party competition hypothesis is consistent with the overall structure of the committees. Model selection tests that nest the party competition and representative majority party hypotheses reveal that the party competition hypothesis is supported by the data while the representative majority party hypothesis is not. Copyright 2002, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • John R. Boyce, 2002. "The Role of Political Parties in the Organization of Congress," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 1-38, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:18:y:2002:i:1:p:1-38

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

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