Center for Effective Lawmaking

Just How Unorthodox? Assessing Lawmaking on Omnibus Spending Bills

Just How Unorthodox? Assessing Lawmaking on Omnibus Spending Bills Scholars commonly observe that lawmaking in Congress has transitioned from the textbook system of “regular order” in which power was decentralized in committees and lawmaking followed a formal process to one of “unorthodox lawmaking” characterized by the centralization of power in party leaders and a lack of formal process. It is debated whether this change marks a decline in Congress’s lawmaking capacity, or is a procedural adaptation that has allowed Congress to remain productive despite high levels of partisanship. In this…

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The Legislative Success of “Giant Killers”

The Legislative Success of “Giant Killers” Incumbent members of Congress are difficult to defeat in elections: since the early 1970s, fewer than 10 percent of all those who have run against them have been successful. In this paper, Sean Theriault, Professor at The University of Texas at Austin and Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) Faculty Affiliate, along with Jared Hrebenar and Isabel Reyna, examine the legislative effectiveness of those rare challengers who knock off incumbents they nickname “Giant Killers” and find that they have greater than expected legislative success after…

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The CEL’s 2023 Award for Best Publication on Effective Lawmaking

The CEL's 2023 Award for Best Publication on Effective Lawmaking The Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) was excited to announce the recipient of the 2023 Award for the Best Publication on Effective Lawmaking at our Fifth Annual Research Conference, at Vanderbilt University on June 5, 2023. The recipient of this year’s award is Todd Makse of Florida International University, for his 2022 article in Political Research Quarterly titled “Instant Credibility: The Conditional Role of Professional Background in Policymaking Success.”In this work, Makse posits the hypothesis that lawmakers can gain credibility…

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Policymaking Effectiveness and Inter-Branch Communications in the US House: Some Legislators are Objectively Better than Others

Policymaking Effectiveness and Inter-Branch Communications in the US House: Some Legislators are Objectively Better than Others Collaboration is believed to be essential to how Congress works, and members who build large networks have been regarded as more likely to be entrepreneurial and effective policymakers. Yet less is known about how these same skills carry over to non-policymaking activities. In her research paper, Nicole Kalaf-Hughes, Associate Professor at Bowling Green State University, argues the same skills that make legislators effective producers of policy also influence more representational activities. Using data from…

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CEL Published Paper: The Bipartisan Path to Effective Lawmaking

CEL Published Paper: The Bipartisan Path to Effective Lawmaking The paper “The Bipartisan Path to Effective Lawmaking” was recently published in the Journal of Politics by University of Chicago Press. Authored by Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) Co-Directors Craig Volden and Alan Wiseman, and Laurel Harbridge-Yong - Associate Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University and CEL Faculty Affiliate - the paper confronts the puzzle of why bipartisanship is alive and well in Congress, despite notable increases in party polarization and rising primary election threats. The authors found the answer…

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Logrolling in Congress

Logrolling in Congress Logrolling is a form of cooperation among politicians that plays a role in the legislative process, being a manifestation of the web of alliances that legislators make to pass bills for their constituencies. This paper from Professor Marco Battaglini (Cornell University), Assistant Professor Valerio Leone Sciabolazza (Sapienza University of Rome), and Professor Eleonora Patacchini (also Cornell) studies logrolling among members of the U.S. Congress by tracking roll-call votes within bills across five legislatures and politicians’ personal connections made via their alumni networks. The authors document a propensity…

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Are Workers Effective Lawmakers?

Are Workers Effective Lawmakers? Throughout the country's history, some politicians and elites have argued that white-collar Americans are more qualified than working-class Americans to govern. To date, however, relatively little is known about the legislative effectiveness of working-class lawmakers. To address this knowledge gap, Jacob M. Lollis, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia, creates a data set merging the occupational background of over 14,000 individual state legislators with their state legislative effectiveness score (SLES) as designed by the CEL. He finds that working-class…

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Deployed to the Hill: How Military Experience Influences Legislative Behavior in Congress

Deployed to the Hill: How Military Experience Influences Legislative Behavior in Congress Military service is often touted as an important benefit for legislating in Congress. With fewer military veterans serving in Congress, candidates with military experience and their supporters often argue that electing more veterans will help reduce legislative dysfunction and gridlock. Are veteran legislators more effective lawmakers than those who have not served in the military? Are they more bipartisan in their legislative activities? Major Joseph Amoroso, an Instructor of American Politics at the United States Military Academy at…

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2022-2023 Small Grant Awards Announced

2022-2023 Small Grant Awards Announced It is with great pleasure that we announce the Center for Effective Lawmaking’s 5th annual small grant awards and recipients. These grants are awarded each year to scholars and researchers who have consistently produced impressive contributions in their areas of study. With the allocation of these small grants, the Center seeks to support and promote the next generation of CEL research in hopes of expanding the overall knowledge associated with legislative effectiveness. Previous grant recipients have made remarkable strides in furthering this mission and we…

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Call for 2022-2023 Small Grant Awards

Call for 2022-2023 Small Grant Awards Proposal deadline: September 20, 2022 Awards announced by: October 17, 2022 The Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) welcomes applications for grants to fund research consistent with the mission of the Center. The Center advances the generation, communication, and use of new knowledge about the effectiveness of individual lawmakers and U.S. legislative institutions. See our website (www.thelawmakers.org) for more on the CEL. The research receiving support must focus on effective lawmaking and must be designed to make an original scholarly contribution, generating and communicating new…

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