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 over 33,000 Congressional contacts between the 110th and 114th sessions of Congress, this work challenges the classic paradox between representational activities and lawmaking. Her results indicate 1) effective policymakers are also skilled in other areas, writing to agencies with a greater frequency and larger and more politically diverse network of collaborators, and 2) effective policymakers are often more responsive to institutional constraints, working with significantly fewer and less diverse colleagues on distributive requests to agencies when Congressional rules disincentivize collaboration – suggesting institutional rules forcing legislators to compete rather than cooperate can have deleterious consequences on the legislative branch, even beyond policymaking activities. The CEL’s Legislative Effectiveness Scores were used for part of the research conducted for this paper.
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