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Commitment, Deference, and Legislative Institutions

Daniel Diermeier
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 89, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 344-355
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2082429
Page Count: 12
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Commitment, Deference, and Legislative Institutions
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Abstract

Informational theories of legislative institutions have demonstrated the potential collective gains from committee specialization due to the use of restrictive amendment procedures. For these benefits to be realized, however, the floor majority must overcome a commitment problem. I demonstrate that in a multistage game, majority rule, combined with the fact that generations of legislators overlap, allows the legislature to solve the commitment problem and to sustain legislative norms and institutions even if legislators are "finitely lived." The model suggests that rather than restrictive amendment procedures, it is the committee's expectation of floor deference that sustains committee specialization. As a consequence, legislative norms may collapse due to an unexpected influx of new members even if the distribution of preferences in the legislature does not change. Finally, I discuss consequences for a comparative study of legislative institutions.

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