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"Killer" Amendments in Congress

John D. Wilkerson
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 93, No. 3 (Sep., 1999), pp. 535-552
DOI: 10.2307/2585573
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2585573
Page Count: 18
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"Killer" Amendments in Congress
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Abstract

For more than three decades, social choice theorists and legislative scholars have studied how legislative outcomes in Congress can be manipulated through strategic amendments and voting. I address the central limitation of this research, a virtual absence of systematic empirical work, by examining 76 "killer" amendments considered during the 103d and 104th congresses. I trace the effects of these amendments on their related bills using archival sources, test for strategic voting using NOMINATE as the baseline measure of legislator preferences across a range of issues, and explore with OLS regression why some killer amendments are more strategically important than others. The findings indicate that successful killer amendments and identifiable strategic voting are extremely rare. In none of the cases examined could the defeat of a bill be attributed to adoption of an alleged killer amendment.

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