Center for Effective Lawmaking

Experienced Legislative Staff Crucial to Making a Difference on the Hill

Experienced Legislative Staff Crucial to Making a Difference on the Hill A legislative staff member’s role is critical to maintaining and sustaining the operations of congressional offices. And the CEL has released a study revealing that the more experience a congressional staff member has, the better equipped they are to make the lawmaker they work for more effective.Assessing data from 1974 to 2013, the CEL discovered that experienced congressional staff have a significant impact on a legislator’s performance in Congress. Experienced staff help members advance legislative proposals of greater significance…

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Women’s Issues and Their Fates in Congress

Women's Issues and Their Fates in Congress It is no surprise to voters that bills addressing the classically considered “women’s issues” are more likely to be introduced by female members of Congress. Yet, bills on such issues are half as likely as other bills to be passed into law. Beyond that fact, CEL research has revealed a further surprising and disheartening finding. The likelihood of passage of “women’s issues” legislation drops in half yet again if the women’s issue bills are sponsored by women themselves. If men sponsor the legislation,…

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Elite Education and Legislative Behavior in the U.S. Congress

Elite Education and Legislative Behavior in the U.S. Congress The Center for Effective Lawmaking announces new research about the relationship between elite education on legislative behavior, particularly effective lawmaking, in the U.S. Congress.About a third of the U.S. Congress is comprised of legislators who attended elite colleges, universities, and law schools. We studied how legislative behaviors within this group have differed from those of other legislators between 1973 and 2014. Elite education is defined as having graduated from the most highly ranked colleges and universities, such as Stanford or Harvard, and…

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Watch: Women in Legislature

Watch: Women in Legislature (A Community Conversation) On May 1, the Center for Effective Lawmaking, along with Batten Women in Policy, hosted a discussion about the role and importance of women in legislatures.The CEL has ground-breaking research finding that congresswomen tend to build coalitions more regularly than their male counterparts. This results in minority-party women being some of the highest scoring legislators when it comes to effectiveness. But, this principle does not apply equally to all congresswoman, nor for their proposals in some important policy areas.Watch the recording as Professor…

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Turning Legislative Effectiveness into Electoral Success

Turning Legislative Effectiveness into Legislative Success The Center for Effective Lawmaking (“CEL”) conducted an in-depth study to explore whether lawmakers in Congress are rewarded in primary elections for their effectiveness. Do effective members win at a greater rate during this time of the electoral cycle? Can they ward off challengers? The answer, for the first time, is clear. And it has obvious impacts on how lawmakers considering reelection should use their time in Congress. Looking at congressional primaries data from 1980-2016 allowed CEL researchers to remove partisan cues and focus…

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How Effective are Party Faction Members in Congress?

How Effective are Party Faction Members in Congress? There is much discussion given today’s political climate about the rise and strength of political factions. As those who are like-minded bind more closely to push through legislation and change, the inclination is to believe that working together in a cohesive faction will wield power to move legislative changes through Congress and the larger the faction the more powerful it is. But is this true? At the Center for Effective Lawmaking, we took an in-depth look at ideological caucuses. Factions (formally referred…

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Watch: Former Congresswoman Barbara Comstock on Effective Lawmaking

On December 2, the Center for Effective Lawmaking was honored to host Former Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA) at the University of Virginia. Mrs. Comstock's LES for the 115th Congress was a very high 3.706, ranking her 10th of her party (read more about the findings and analysis from the 115th Congress here). As speaker for the Batten Hour, she spoke at length on building coalitions and how we can increase diversity in representation. Watch the entire Batten Hour presentation here:

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New Research About Women’s Advancement in Politics

New Research on Women's Advancement in Politics and the Gender Gap New research coming from our 2018-2019 small grant program has huge implications regarding the prospects for career advancement among female congressional staff. CEL affiliates and grant awardees Melinda N. Ritchie and Hye Young You find that female staff members experience slower rates of promotion and lower levels of compensation than male staff members at the same rank, and that this gender gap is most substantial for positions that present the greatest structural challenges for women. These differences appear to…

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The Five Habits of Highly Effective Lawmakers

The Five Habits of Highly Effective Lawmakers As Congress prepares to go into recess, it is an opportunity reflect upon the legislative work completed thus far in the 116th Congress. Additionally, with many initiatives and reforms facing Congress upon their return, lawmakers still have a lot of work ahead of them upon their return in September. While it can feel to voters as though progress on the Hill is slow or even nonexistent, we believe reports of the death of congressional lawmaking have been greatly exaggerated. Public discourse tends to…

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Inside the 2nd Annual Research Conference at the Center for Effective Lawmaking

Inside the 2nd Annual Research Conference at the Center for Effective Lawmaking The Center for Effective Lawmaking hosted its Second Annual Research Conference on June 10, 2019 at the University of Virginia. The conference featured seven presentations of work focused on the conference theme “The Pipeline of Potentially Effective Lawmakers: Who Runs and Who Gets Elected?”  The Center for Effective Lawmaking's research team has developed three areas of focus for the research: identification of the characteristics of those who would likely become effective lawmakers once elected; cultivation of effective lawmakers…

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