Center for Effective Lawmaking

Effective Lawmaking Behind the Scenes
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Effective Lawmaking Behind the Scenes

Effective Lawmaking Behind the Scenes In this Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) working paper, Co-Directors Craig Volden (University of Virginia) and Alan Wiseman (Vanderbilt University), and Faculty Affiliates Mary Kroeger (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill), Erinn Lauterbach (Villanova University), and Kelsey Shoub (University of Massachusetts-Amherst) demonstrate how behind-the-scenes lawmaking has become much more common in the U.S. Congress in recent years, with numerous bills embedded in must-pass legislation. Building on previous political science research, they offer a methodology to identify all bills that are substantially embedded in all laws in both…

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Legislative Effectiveness: The Elements of Success

Legislative Effectiveness: The Elements of Success The Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) co-directors Craig Volden and Alan Wiseman recently wrote an essay titled “Legislative Effectiveness: The Elements of Success” which was published in the Summer 2024 issue of the quarterly political journal Democracy as part of the symposium “Revitalizing Political Leadership.” The article examines the role of state legislatures in developing effective lawmakers at both the state and federal levels, based on the analysis of the CEL’s Legislative Effectiveness Scores (which measure lawmaking effectiveness of members of Congress) and the…

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The CEL’s 2024 Award for Best Publication on Effective Lawmaking

Ju Yeon “Julia” Park (r) being presented with the CEL’s Best Publication award by co-director Craig Volden (l) (Photo by Jenna Huber, Batten School). The CEL's 2024 Award for Best Publication on Effective Lawmaking The Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) was pleased to announce the recipient of the 2024 Award for the Best Publication on Effective Lawmaking at our Sixth Annual Research Conference, at the University of Virginia on Monday, June 10, 2024. The recipients of this year’s award are Pamela Ban (UC San Diego), Ju Yeon “Julia” Park (The Ohio…

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CEL presentation to the LEGIS Congressional Fellows

CEL presentation to the LEGIS Congressional Fellows On February 23, 2024, the Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) gave our annual presentation to the LEGIS Congressional Fellowship program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. The LEGIS program is composed of a bipartisan group of professionals from government agencies selected by offices in both chambers of Congress to learn about the lawmaking process and serve as subject-matter policy experts for legislators. As in previous years, co-directors Craig Volden and Alan Wiseman (of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy…

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The Conditional Lawmaking Benefits of Party Faction Membership in Congress

The Conditional Lawmaking Benefits of Party Faction Membership in Congress In this new Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) paper published in Political Research Quarterly, CEL co-directors Craig Volden and Alan Wiseman of the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University respectively, alongside Lafayette College’s Andrew Clark (also a CEL Faculty Affiliate), examine how joining a party faction can impact a lawmaker’s effectiveness. Party faction membership has been shown to increase lawmakers' electoral success, but this paper investigates if the benefits persist once those lawmakers enter Congress. The authors’ research tests three…

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Polarization and Lawmaking Effectiveness in the United States Congress

Polarization and Lawmaking Effectiveness in the United States Congress Political scientists have emphasized the rightward ideological movement of congressional Republicans across recent decades, relative to a more limited leftward shift by Democrats. However, new research from Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) co-directors Craig Volden and Alan Wiseman (of the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University, respectively), and CEL Graduate Affiliate Patrick Buhr (also of Vanderbilt) argue that this asymmetric polarization has not translated into an equally conservative shift in lawmaking. Drawing on data on the lawmaking effectiveness of Representatives and…

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I’m Coming Out! How Voter Discrimination Produces Effective LGBTQ Lawmakers

I’m Coming Out! How Voter Discrimination Produces Effective LGBTQ Lawmakers In this Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) working paper, the University of Virginia's Jacob Lollis and Mackenzie Dobson (CEL Graduate Affiliate) look into the effectiveness of LGBTQ lawmakers. The authors expand on earlier research that connects voter discrimination to effective lawmaking and argue that the prejudice that LGBTQ legislators face from voters enables them to be effective lawmakers. To test this, Lollis and Dobson take data on state legislators’ sexual identity and compare it to data on state legislative effectiveness…

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Pivots or Partisans?: Proposal-Making Strategy and Status Quo Selection in Congress

Pivots or Partisans? Proposal-Making Strategy and Status Quo Selection in Congress Lawmakers vary considerably in how effectively they advance their priorities through Congress. However, the actual proposal-writing strategies undergirding these differences have remained largely unexplored, due to measurement and methodological difficulties. These obstacles have included prohibitively small sample sizes, costly data requirements, and strong theoretical assumptions. In this Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) working paper, political scientists Jesse Crosson (CEL Faculty Affiliate), Alexander Furnas, and Geoffrey Lorenz (CEL Faculty Affiliate) address these obstacles and analyze the proposal strategies of effective…

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How Modern Lawmakers Advertise Their Legislative Effectiveness to Constituents

How Modern Lawmakers Advertise Their Legislative Effectiveness to Constituents In a complex information environment, members of Congress must communicate to their constituents their value as a representative. Specifically, they aim to convince voters that they are effective representatives and therefore ought to be reelected. Modern scholarship has focused largely on legislators’ effectiveness as lawmakers in areas like bill introduction, sponsorship, and shepherding of legislation through congressional procedures. But legislators do more than traditional lawmaking activities; they also engage in representational acts of advocacy and district-focused activity. This expanded notion of…

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Expertise Acquisition in Congress

Expertise Acquisition in Congress Staff members are an essential part of a well-functioning Congress, as is the expertise they acquire and use to do their jobs. It is therefore important to understand what factors contribute to or detract from staff investing in acquiring expertise and learning new skills. To examine these ideas, Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) Faculty Affiliate Christian Fong and his co-authors Kenneth Lowande and Adam Rauh – all of the University of Michigan – advance a theory of skill acquisition, rooted in the field of labor economics, and apply it to the problem of congressional oversight of the executive branch.…

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