Electoral and Financial Effects of Changes in Committee Power: The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Budget Reform, the Tax Reform Act of 1986, and the Money Committees in the House
Most rational choice theories of legislatures locate the source of committee power in the restrictive procedural rules that enforce committee jurisdictions. However there is no empirical support for this claim; further, there is little evidence for the natural implication that membership on more powerful committees confers electoral benefits. I address these puzzles by exploiting the occurrence of major budget and tax reforms in the mid-eighties; these reforms provide a natural experiment for measuring the electoral and financial consequences of changes in committee power. The author shows that the procedural rule changes, instituted by the Gramnm-Rudman-Hollings budget reform, caused an increase in campaign contributions to members of the Budget Committee and led to a reduction in the vote share of members of the Appropriations Committee. This heretofore unrecognized effect, of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings budget reform on the welfare of members of the House, rivals that of a more widely recognized "policy shock," the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Copyright 1997 by the University of Chicago.
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