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A Spatial Testing of Fenno's Six Committees: Environmental Constraints Reflected in Spatial Configuration

Byoung-Kwon Sohn
Journal of International and Area Studies
Vol. 8, No. 1 (June 2001), pp. 91-106
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43111435
Page Count: 16
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A Spatial Testing of Fenno's Six Committees: Environmental Constraints Reflected in Spatial Configuration
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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to test Fenno's argument on the "environmental constraints" of the House standing committees presented in his Congressmen in Committees. The main task of the paper is to see if the "environmental constraints," which are presumed to influence the internal committee politics, are reflected in the spatial configurations of Fenno's six committees. In executing a spatial test, Rosenthal/Poole NOMINATE score was utilized. From the findings of the spatial test, we can conclude that Fenno's observation on the environmental constraints of the six committees is generally supported. The committees under the constraints of parties and party leaders, such as the Education and Labor Committee and the Ways and Means Committee, are also most heterogeneous and polarized in spatial terms. In contrast, the Foreign Affairs Committee, a committee under the influence of non-partisan foreign policy guidelines from the executive branch, and the Post Office and Civil Service Committee, a committee under the constraints of monolithic clientele groups, are most homogeneous and least polarized. The other two committees, the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee and the Appropriations Committee, lie in between.

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