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Buying Time: Moneyed Interests and the Mobilization of Bias in Congressional Committees

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2014

Richard L. Hall
University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Frank W. Wayman
University of Michigan Dearborn


Over the last two decades institutional critics have increasingly charged that moneyed interests dominate the legislative process in Congress. Systematic research on campaign contributions and members' floor voting, however, provides little supporting evidence. We develop a view of the member-donor relationship that questions the theoretical underpinnings of the vote-buying hypothesis itself and suggests two alternative claims: (1) the effects of group expenditures are more likely to appear in committee than on the floor; and (2) the behavior most likely to be affected is members' legislative involvement, not their votes. In order to test this account, we specify a model of committee participation and estimate it using data from three House committees. In contrast to the substantial literature on contributions and roll calls, our analysis provides solid support for the importance of moneyed interests in the legislative process. We also find evidence that members are more responsive to organized business interests within their districts than to unorganized voters even when voters have strong preferences and the issue at stake is salient. Such findings suggest several important implications for our understanding of political money, interest groups, and the representativeness of legislative deliberations.

Copyright © American Political Science Association 1990

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