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The Policy Impact of the Committee Assignment Process in the House

Timothy E. Cook
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 45, No. 4 (Nov., 1983), pp. 1027-1036
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2130424
Page Count: 10
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The Policy Impact of the Committee Assignment Process in the House
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Abstract

Although it is well established that committee assignments in the House are distributed by routine processes of accommodating members' requests, less attention has been given to the question of whether the policy results of the procedure are routine and unbiased. An analysis of contests among Democratic applicants for committees from 1961 to 1975 shows that it is rare for either more liberal or more conservative competitors to prevail consistently for seats on semiexclusive committees. Instead, the impact of the assignment process itself on the ideological composition of committees seldom differs from the results obtainable from a series of coin tosses. Change or inertia in the policy orientations of committees is then primarily due to change (or lack thereof) in the willingness of members to request assignments

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