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Legislative Shirking in the Pre-Twentieth Amendment Era: Presidential Influence, Party Power, and Lame-Duck Sessions of Congress, 1877–1933

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 May 2008

Jeffery A. Jenkins
University of Virginia
Timothy P. Nokken
Texas Tech University


In 1933, the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution was adopted. Otherwise known as the Lame Duck Amendment, it reorganized the congressional terms of office and dates of annual convening, eliminating the short (or “lame-duck”) session that had existed up to that time. The amendment was the brainchild of Sen. George W. Norris (R-NE), who argued that lame-duck sessions posed a grave threat to democratic accountability and responsiveness, as they convened after the elections to the next Congress and thus were populated in part by members who were retiring or had lost their reelection bids. As a result, according to Norris, the potential for an agency problem in representation was great in lame-duck sessions. Using the literature on legislative shirking—especially the subliterature on last-term effects—as our theoretical backdrop, we investigate Norris's arguments in detail, examining whether his concerns regarding lame-duck sessions were justified. Using a variety of data and a number of tests, we find little systematic evidence to suggest that exiting members altered their behavior significantly (i.e., shirked) in their last terms in office. In short, the concerns that Norris expressed, such as excessive presidential influence in the legislative process and increased majority-party manipulation of the legislative agenda, were not in fact major problems in lame-duck sessions.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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1. By agency problem (or principal-agent problem), we mean the difficulties inherent in motivating one party to act on behalf of another party, when the first party has an informational advantage. In the case of representation, this means motivating members of Congress to act in accord with the wishes or preferences of their underlying district or state constituents. Elections—specifically the threat of being voted out of office by constituents—are often seen as the mechanism that keeps members of Congress accountable, when they might possess incentives to pursue other or different interests. See Robert Barro, “The Control of Politicians: An Economic Model,” Public Choice 14 (1973): 1942Google Scholar; John Ferejohn, “Incumbent Performance and Electoral Control,” Public Choice 50 (1986): 525Google Scholar. Defined in this way, an agency problem in representation is a “moral hazard” problem, which involves a principal's difficulties in inducing its agent to make decisions it likes. This is the way we will use the term “agency problem” in this paper. Another group of agency problems, which we do not pursue in this paper, involves “adverse selection” problems, wherein a principal struggles to elect an agent that has ideological beliefs close to its own. For coverage of adverse selection, as well as moral hazard and agency issues in general, see Besley, Timothy, Principled Agents? The Political Economy of Good Government (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)Google Scholar.

2. Zucker, Norman L., George W. Norris: Gentle Knight of American Democracy (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1966), 3940Google Scholar.

3. Bender, Bruce and Lott, John R. Jr., “Legislator Voting and Shirking: A Critical Review of the Literature,” Public Choice 87 (1996): 67100, 68CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4. For a review of the shirking literature, see Bender and Lott, “Legislator Voting and Shirking.”

5. Another strand of the shirking literature focuses on voting participation—whether members systematically reduce their participation levels in their last terms—rather than voting behavior. We do not examine participatory shirking directly in this paper, although we do account for abstention levels in roll-call voting in an analysis in Section V.

6. B. M. Crowe, “The History of the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States” (Master's Thesis, University of Houston, 1969), 2.

7. See Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, vol. 34, 522–23.

8. Crowe, “The History of the Twentieth Amendment.”

9. U.S. Statutes at Large, vol. 1, 241.

10. Prior to 1872, states could hold elections at their discretion. In 1872, as part of the Apportionment Act, Congress institutionalized the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November as the date for all Federal elections. See U.S. Statutes at Large, vol. 17, 28.

11. Prior to 1821, Congress in fact passed eighteen different laws to move forward the annual date of convening—but most were modest, moving the date up a single month to November. See Brown, Everett S., “The Time of Meetings of Congress,” American Political Science Review 25 (1931): 955–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar. After 1821, Congress changed the annual date of convening only once, in 1867—in this case, an extra session was created, which would convene on March 4, so that the Republican majority in Congress could combat President Andrew Johnson and his liberal Reconstruction politics. See U.S. Statutes at Large, vol. 14, p. 378. This extra session was maintained for three Congresses—the 40th, 41st, and 42nd—before its repeal in 1871. See U.S. Statutes at Large, vol. 17, 798–99.

12. A separate set of members over time proposed constitutional amendments to lengthen the second session by moving the congressional end date to April or May. These members were concerned that the second session was too short to legislative efficiently. Of course, these amendments would not have alleviated the potential agency problem in lame-duck sessions, and in fact would have exacerbated it. Amendments of this sort were offered by Sen. Aaron Burr (Anti-Admin.-NY) in 1795, Sen. James Hillhouse (F-CT) in 1808, Sen. John Ingalls (R-KS) in 1886, Sen. George F. Hoar (R-MA) in 1889, 1898, and 1901, and Rep. Robert Lee Henry (D-TX) in 1910. For further details, see Crowe, “The History of the Twentieth Amendment.”

13. Congressional Record, 50th Congress, 1st sess., (2 Apr. 1888): 2619–25.

14. Congressional Record, 52nd Congress, 2nd sess., (10 Jan. 1893): 483–500.

15. The material in this section relies heavily on Crowe, “The History of the Twentieth Amendment”; Goodman, Craig and Nokken, Timothy P., “Lame Duck Legislators and Consideration of the Ship Subsidy Bill of 1922,” American Politics Research 32 (2004): 465–89Google Scholar; and Kyvig, David E., “Redesigning Congress: The Seventeenth and Twentieth Amendments to the Constitution,” in The American Congress: The Building of Democracy, ed. Zelizer, Julian E. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004), 356–69Google Scholar.

16. Crowe, “The History of the Twentieth Amendment,” 33.

17. See, for example, Los Angeles Times (22 Sept. 1922, p. II4); Chicago Tribune (15 Oct. 1922, p. 18); New York Times (26 Oct. 1922, p. 13); New York Times (2 Nov. 1922, p. 15).

18. Crowe, “The History of the Twentieth Amendment,” 33.

19. Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution provides the president with the power to convene extra (or “extraordinary”) sessions of Congress.

20. Congressional Record, 67th Cong., 3rd sess., (21 Nov. 1922): 9–11.

21. Congressional Record, 67th Cong., 3rd sess., (29 Nov. 1922): 429.

22. Crowe, “The History of the Twentieth Amendment.” A key agent for the White House was Shipping Board chairman Albert Lasker, who exerted tremendous effort lobbying Republican members to support Harding's position. Lasker purportedly communicated that the president would withhold presidential appointments to those Republicans who failed to support the shipping bill. He also kept a list detailing which Republicans sought favors from the White House along with how those members voted on the bill. See Murray, R. K., The Harding Era: Warren G. Harding and His Administration (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1969)Google Scholar.

23. Norris's political career is covered in Neuberger, Richard L. and Kahn, Stephen B., Integrity: The Life of George W. Norris (New York: The Vanguard Press, 1937)Google Scholar; Lief, Alfred, Democracy's Norris: The Biography of a Lonely Crusade (New York: Stackpole Sons, 1939)Google Scholar; Norris, George W., Fighting Liberal: The Autobiography of George W. Norris (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1945)Google Scholar; Fellman, David, “The Liberalism of Senator Norris,” American Political Science Review 40 (1946): 2751Google Scholar; Zucker, George W. Norris: Gentle Knight of American Democracy; Lowitt, Richard, George W. Norris: The Persistence of a Progressive, 1913–1933 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1971)Google Scholar.

24. Norris also lobbied for the elimination of the Electoral College at this time, but was unsuccessful.

25. Many of these arguments were extensions of those first elaborated by Rep. William Crain in the 1880s and 1890s, and echoed by newspaper journalists in the 1910s and 1920s.

26. This quote, which appeared in an unpublished manuscript by Norris entitled “Statement,” is taken from Zucker, George W. Norris: Gentle Knight of American Democracy, 38. Norris made similar arguments often in his published work. See Norris, George W., “Coddling the Lame Duck,” The Independent 114 (1925): 213–14Google Scholar; Norris, George W., “Mr. Dawes and the Senate Rules,” Forum 74 (1925): 581–86Google Scholar; Norris, Fighting Liberal.

27. This view of lame-duck members of Congress as willing (and desperate) supplicants was voiced prominently in various press outlets in the early 1910s. For example, an editorial in The Oregonian stated:

Nine-tenths of the ex-Congressmen have no money, and have lived on their salaries. It is well nigh impossible for such a man to reduce his style of living, or to begin work in private life where he was twenty or thirty years ago. His only recourse is an appointment and the lingering hope that some day he may get his Congressional job back again. … The Lame Duck is always with us after every election. There is something pathetic about the sight of a defeated office-holder trying somehow to hold onto the public udder (7 Jan. 1911, p. 8).

This view was later echoed in an editorial in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

It is claimed that once an average man gets a taste of Washington life and the government payroll he always has a “hankering” for Uncle Sam. After a fellow has served a few years in Congress he will admit to you confidentially that it goes hard for him to return home and resume his usual vocation. Consequently, if a defeated candidate's party is in power, he expects, and sometimes insists, that a job shall be found for him. Day after day these “lame ducks” pull the wires between their hotels and the White House in anticipation of landing some fat job. The “lame duck” visits the White House in person, he writes letters, and he sends his friends in office to see the men with the patronage to dispense (21 Apr. 1915, p. 6).

28. Lowitt, George W. Norris: The Persistence of a Progressive, 156.

29. Norris, “Mr. Dawes and the Senate Rules,” 583.

30. Norris, “Coddling the Lame Duck,” 213.

31. Congressional Record, 67th Cong., 4th sess., (13 Feb. 1923): 3540. Norris's proposal also would have moved the start of the presidential term to the third Monday in January.

32. Crowe, “The History of the Twentieth Amendment,” 41, 46–47.

33. Norris's amendment proposal passed in the Senate by votes of 63–7, 73–2, 67–6, and 64–9 in the 68th, 69th, 70th, and 71st Congresses, respectively. See Congressional Record, 68th Cong., 1st sess., (18 Mar. 1924): 4418; 69th Cong., 1st sess., (15 Feb. 1926): 3971; 70th Cong., 1st sess., (4 Jan. 1928): 957; 71st Cong., 1st sess., 6 June 1929): 2492. In the House, the proposal was reported favorably out of committee in the 68th and 69th Congresses, but it died on the House calendar. In the 70th Congress, the proposal received floor consideration and substantial support, via a 209–157 roll call, but fell 36 votes short of the two-thirds requirement for passage. See Congressional Record, 70th Cong., 1st sess., (9 Mar. 1928): 4430. In the 71st Congress, an amended proposal passed in the House on a 290–93 roll call, but it included a fixed termination date of March 4 for the second session. See Congressional Record, 71st Cong., 3rd sess., (24 Feb. 1931): 5907. A conference committee was appointed to try to iron out the differences between the two chamber bills, but Norris and the Senate conferees were adamant that the time-frame for the second session be unlimited. As a result, a compromise bill could not be achieved, and Norris's proposal died with the expiration of the Congress. See Norris, Fighting Liberal, 340–41.

34. Congressional Record, 68th Cong., 2nd sess., (18 Feb. 1925): 4011.

35. This point is made at length by Crowe, “The History of the Twentieth,” 93:

The Republican leadership saw the Norris Amendment as breaking down the last of the controls on government spending. Allowing Congress to convene without any fixed termination date might result in a two-year Congress continually in session, making constant and extravagant appropriations. Longworth was especially concerned over the rising cost of government and the many proposals for spending money which the progressives were advocating in Congress. These proposals, he felt, would only bring a mounting national debt and eventual bankruptcy.

Other reasons for opposition to the Lame Duck Amendment included: (1) there was a vital need to maintain the 13-month gap between member election and oath-taking, as it served as an important “cooling off” period and prevented temporary election passions from unduly influencing public policy; (2) constitutional tinkering should be avoided at all costs, especially when there was not a strong public outcry for an amendment; and (3) moving up the presidential and congressional terms could cause organizational problems, if the House or Senate could not elect leaders quickly enough (as had occurred at times in the past) or if the presidential election outcome was disputed. See, for example, New York Times (22 Feb. 1926, p. 1); New York Times (19 Nov. 1927, p. 16); Chicago Daily Tribune (28 Jan. 1928, p. 8); Washington Post (5 Jan. 1931, p. 6).

36. The progressive House Republicans emerged as a threat to the conservative Old Guard in the early 1920s, and a critical point was reached in December 1923, during the initial organization of the 68th Congress. The progressives refused to support the Republican caucus nominee for speaker, Frederick Gillett (R-MA), and instead ran a candidate of their own, Henry Cooper (R-WI). This resulted in the only extended House speaker election since 1859, as the balloting went nine rounds; eventually the progressives were able to extract sufficient promises from Old Guard Republican leaders, after which they threw their support to Gillett. As majority leader, Longworth was the party representative who negotiated with the splinter group of progressives. And while he chafed at giving in to them, Longworth kept his word and agreed to the liberalization of key rules, which involved the development of a workable discharge rule (which required the support of only 150 members), by which legislation could be drawn out of committee, and the reduction in the power of committee chairmen, via the elimination of the “pocket veto” that chairs used to stifle the will of the committee. In the following Congress, however, Longworth ascended to the speaker's chair, and with a Republican electoral windfall in the 1924 elections that gave him a conservative Republican majority in the chamber, he proceeded to punish the progressives by kicking them out of the Republican caucus, stripping them of their prime committee assignments, and rolling back the reforms he agreed to previously as majority leader. Finally, marginalized and ostracized, the progressive Republicans returned to the party fold in the 70th Congress, and agreed to abide by Longworth's strict party discipline requirements. For an overview of these political developments, see Hasbrouck, Paul DeWitt, Party Government in the House of Representatives (New York: Macmillan, 1927), 2022Google Scholar; Schickler, Eric, Disjointed Pluralism: Institutional Innovation and the Development of the U.S. Congress (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 102–9Google Scholar; Remini, Robert V., The House: The History of the House of Representatives (New York: Collins, 2006), 295306Google Scholar; Jenkins, Jeffery A. and Stewart, Charles III, Fighting for the Speakership: The House and the Rise of Party Government (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, forthcoming), chap. 7Google Scholar.

37. See Schickler, Disjointed Pluralism. On the general question of institutional “stickiness,” and uncertainty plaguing reform efforts, see Adler, E. Scott, Why Congressional Reforms Fail: Reelection and the House Committee System (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002)Google Scholar.

38. In addition to asking why Norris's amendment proposal was stymied in the House, one might also ask why it passed so easily, and often, in the Senate. Few scholars have examined this question in even the remotest detail. David E. Kyvig offers the following speculation: “The measure bore most heavily on the House of Representatives because the requirement that all of its members face voters every two years strictly limited its mandate. The Senate, in contrast, had a continuous character because only one-third of its members stood for election each biennium.” See Kyvig, “Redesigning Congress,” 362–63. An alternative explanation might revolve around the strategic context in the House and Senate in the 1920s. For example, unlike in the House, the Republican progressives in the Senate were always pivotal; the conservative Republicans in the Senate were never a majority by themselves in the 1920s. Thus, in order to govern, the conservative Republican leadership in the Senate had to “play ball” with the progressives in their party. One way would have been to negotiate deals across votes, with quid pro quos established. Senate Republican leaders might have agreed to go along with the progressives on the Norris amendment proposal in exchange for the progressives' support of a bill that the leadership cared about. Moreover, the Republican Senate leadership knew that Longworth and his allies in the House were firmly opposed to Norris's amendment proposal; thus, they would have known that their acquiescence in the Senate would not lead to the passage of legislation. Put simply, the Republican Senate leadership knew that a “veto point” was in place in the House, leaving the Senate outcome meaningless. As a result, the conservative Senate Republicans could extract benefits from their arrangement with the progressives (getting progressives' support on some bill the leadership cared about, while also appearing “democratic” more generally before the public) without having to pay any real costs.

Theoretically, this scenario is similar to the explanation offered by Gary W. Cox and Mathew D. McCubbins as to why legislation that does not become law sometimes passes in one chamber over majority party opposition. See Cox, Gary W. and McCubbins, Mathew D., Setting the Agenda: Responsible Party Government in the U.S. House of Representatives (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), chap. 6CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Substantively, this scenario is hinted at in a 1928 editorial in The Independent: “The Senate tolerates the Norris Amendment and wishes it well, but its toleration is perhaps governed by a knowledge that the House will reject the bill. The House, true to Senatorial expectations, has never failed to turn it back” (24 Mar. 1928, p. 268). While it is beyond the scope of this analysis, an in-depth archival analysis might uncover additional evidence to support this scenario. Regardless, it is clear that an examination of House-Senate differences on votes related to Norris's amendment proposal requires further study.

39. The Norris resolution was adopted in the Senate by a 63–7 vote and in House by a 335–56 vote. See Congressional Record, 72nd Cong., 1st sess., (6 Jan. 1932): 1384; 72nd Cong., 1st sess., (16 Feb. 1932): 4060. Minor changes in the proposals across the two chambers—notably on the dates of congressional and presidential terms of offices and the date of annual convening for Congress—required that a conference committee be appointed. The conference committee crafted a compromise proposal, which passed in the House on an unrecorded vote on March 1, 1932, and in the Senate by a 74–3 vote a day later. See Congressional Record, 72nd Cong., 1st sess., (2 Mar. 1932): 5086.

40. By May 1933, all forty-eight states had completed the ratification process. See Crowe, “The History of the Twentieth Amendment,” 126–27, for a list of state ratification dates.

41. Norris, Fighting Liberal, 332.

42. Norris, “Mr. Dawes and the Senate Rules,” 583.

43. See, for example, Barro, “The Control of Politicians;” Ferejohn, “Incumbent Performance and Electoral Control;” and Bender and Lott, “Legislator Voting and Shirking.”

44. Kalt, Joseph P. and Zupan, Mark A., “The Apparent Ideological Behavior of Legislators: Testing for Principal-Agent Slack in Political Institutions,” Journal of Law and Economics 33 (1990): 103–31Google Scholar; Zupan, Mark A., “The Last Period Problem in Politics: Do Congressional Representatives Not Subject to a Reelection Constraint Alter Their Voting Behavior?Public Choice 65 (1990): 167–80Google Scholar; Lott, John R. Jr., “Political Cheating,” Public Choice 52 (1987): 169–86Google Scholar; Vanbeek, James R., “Does the Decision to Retire Increase the Amount of Political Shirking?Public Finance Quarterly (1991): 444–56Google Scholar.

45. Lott, John R. Jr., and Bronars, Stephen G., “Time Series Evidence on Shirking in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Public Choice 76 (1993): 125–49Google Scholar; Poole, Keith T. and Romer, Thomas, “Ideology, ‘Shirking’, and Representation,” Public Choice 77 (1993): 185–96Google Scholar. For a slightly different take on the Poole and Romer model and results, see Poole, Keith T. and Rosenthal, Howard, Congress: A Political Economic History of Roll Call Voting (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 7476Google Scholar.

46. Rothenberg, Lawrence S. and Sanders, Mitchell S., “Severing the Electoral Connection: Shirking in the Contemporary Congress,” American Journal of Political Science 44 (2000): 316–25Google Scholar; Tien, Charles, “Representation, Voluntary Retirement, and Shirking in the Last Term,” Public Choice 106 (2001): 117–30Google Scholar; Snyder, James M. Jr., and Ting, Michael M., “Roll Calls, Party Labels, and Elections,” Political Analysis 11 (2003): 419–44Google Scholar.

47. The Rothenberg and Sanders results have been challenged by Carson, Jamie L., Crespin, Michael H., Jenkins, Jeffery A., and Vander Wielen, Ryan J., “Shirking in the Contemporary Congress: A Reappraisal,” Political Analysis 12 (2004): 176–79Google Scholar. See, also, Lawrence S. Rothenberg and Mitchell S. Sanders, “Reply to ‘Shirking in the Contemporary Congress: A Reappraisal,’Political Analysis 12 (2004): 180–81Google Scholar, and Crespin, Michael H., Carson, Jamie L., and Jenkins, Jeffery A., “Shirking in the Contemporary Congress Redux.” Political Analysis (2004) Web Rejoinder, Scholar.

48. Here, we build on an earlier study by Timothy P. Nokken, which finds small last-term effects using a similar research design and methodological framework to that of Poole and Romer. See Nokken, Timothy P., “The Electoral Disconnection: Roll-Call Behavior in Lame Duck Sessions of the House of Representatives, 1879–1933,” in Party, Process, and Political Change in Congress, Volume 2: Further New Perspectives on the History of Congress, ed. Brady, David W. and McCubbins, Mathew D. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007), 345–57Google Scholar.

49. The one exception, of course, is if the arbitrarily chosen retirement date exactly coincides with a member's actual retirement-date decision.

50. While it is possible that retirees in the pre-Twentieth Amendment era may have made their retirement decisions sometime in the regular session of a Congress, we do not believe this in fact happened much. There was typically a three-to-five-month gap between the end of the regular session and the November elections; this was a fairly large time-span in a period when the competitive lead-up to elections was still modest. We believe that most retirees made their retirement decisions in that three-to-five-month period. To the extent that they did not, we can build that possibility into our empirical tests (see note 62).

51. While some studies, like Lott and Bronars, “Time Series Evidence on Shirking in the U.S. House of Representatives,” and Poole and Romer, “Ideology, ‘Shirking,’ and Representation,” include a “reelection loser” variable along with a “retiree” variable, the reelection loser variable is not testing a severed electoral connection, shirking story. Rather, it is examining an out-of-step, sorting story—assessing the extent to which eventual reelection losers strayed from the preferences of their constituents, causing them to be “sorted” (voted) out of office.

52. While interest groups had begun to form and lobby Congress in the late nineteenth century, their influence and ability to serve as a landing pad for ex-members of Congress was limited. See Thompson, Margaret Susan, The “Spider Web”: Congress and Lobbying in the Age of Grant (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985)Google Scholar. It was not until the mid-twentieth century that the modern interest-group system had begun in earnest, which (among other things) provided lucrative post-elective employment opportunities for ex-members of Congress. See Wright, John R., Interest Groups and Congress: Lobbying, Contributions and Influence (New York: Longman, 2002)Google Scholar.

53. The Senate presents an additional theoretical hurdle, in that the Seventeenth Amendment (1913) acts as a break between representational regimes. Before the amendment, senators were elected indirectly by state legislators; after the amendment, senators were elected directly by the state citizenry. Nonetheless, a Senate-based analysis will provide an interesting extension to the results presented in this paper.

54. See Hasbrouck, Party Government in the House of Representatives; Hicks, John D., Republican Ascendancy, 1921–1933 (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960)Google Scholar; Crowe, “The History of the Twentieth Amendment;” and Morgan, H. Wayne, From Hayes to McKinley: National Party Politics, 1877–1896 (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1969)Google Scholar.

55. See Stewart, Charles III, Analyzing Congress (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001), 383Google Scholar.

56. Using a differential in roll-call scales is a common way to generate a dependent variable in shirking studies. See, for example, Lott and Bronars, “Time Series Evidence on Shirking in the U.S. House of Representatives;” Poole and Romer, “Ideology, ‘Shirking,’ and Representation;” and Rothenberg and Sanders, “Severing the Electoral Connection.”

57. This basic specification is used in Lott and Bronars, “Time Series Evidence on Shirking in the U.S. House of Representatives;” Poole and Romer, “Ideology, ‘Shirking,’ and Representation;” and Carson, Crespin, Jenkins, and Vander Wielen, “Shirking in the Contemporary Congress: A Reappraisal.”

58. This specification is used in Snyder and Ting, “Roll Calls, Party Labels, and Elections.” Including member-specific fixed effects acknowledges the overlapping membership across Congresses—that is, that some House members serve in multiple Congresses—whereas the basic specification implicitly treats each Congress as composed of different sets of unique members. As individual member voting behavior is not independent across Congresses—as a member's ideology is not a random draw across Congresses—the inclusion of member-specific fixed effects allows us to determine if that behavioral correlation significantly affects our key covariates.

59. This specification is used in Rothenberg and Sanders, “Reply to ‘Shirking in the Contemporary Congress: A Reappraisal.’” Heteroskedastic regression, a maximum-likelihood adaptation of the normal regression model, allows for variance differences in the dependent variable. See Harvey, A. C., “Estimating Regression Models with Multiplicative Heteroscedasticity,” Econometrica 44 (1976): 461–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Accounting for variance differences is important when the dependent variable is a difference in roll-call voting scales between two periods, because the distribution of scale scores may vary substantially across periods. In our analysis, for instance, some sessions in some Congresses may have greater spreads than other sessions in other Congresses. If congressional leaders manipulate the legislative agenda in a given long or short session, for example, this could lead to a particular set of roll calls voted upon—which will affect the scaling and distribution of ideological (or partisan) scores that are produced. Failing to control for spread differences in long–short session pairs could lead to findings of ideological (partisan) shifts that are in fact spurious. The heteroskedastic regression procedure allows us to deal with this potential problem by estimating an additional variance parameter for each session-pair to control for any differences in spreads. Stated differently, heteroskedastic regressions allows for differences in distributional “stretching” on the underlying scale (or scale pairs, in our case). Note that simply including Congress-specific fixed effects deals partly with the cross-period difference issue, by allowing for mean shifts across scales. Most scholars consider this to be sufficient. As Snyder and Ting, in their cross-Congress analysis, note: “year fixed-effects control for mean shifts in the roll call scale that occur across congresses … We do not directly control for the ‘stretching’ that can also occur across congresses, but that is typically less of a problem than shifting means.” See Snyder and Ting, “Roll Calls, Party Labels, and Elections,” 437, fn 32. To the degree that it is a problem, heteroskedastic regression with Congress-specific fixed effects allows for both mean and variance shifts across scales. This serves as a strong test of sensitivity.

60. The lame-duck comparison between presidential-party lame ducks and other-party lame ducks in model one, −5.4 percent vs. −3.8 percent, is the closest in terms of significance (p < 0.113).

61. Norris, “Mr. Dawes and the Senate Rules,” 584.

62. It is also possible that retirees, anticipating their eventual departure from the chamber, began shirking before the elections, during the regular session of Congress. If true, this should further bias our tests toward finding greater differences between election losers and retirees.

63. The lame-duck comparison between presidential-party losers and other-party losers in model five, −4.2 percent vs. –6.4 percent, is the closest in terms of significance (p < 0.297).

64. Thus, in terms of the party support scores in Table 1, if a member did not participate on a set of party unity votes, he would be coded as not supporting the party position on those roll calls.

65. The lame-duck comparison between presidential-party lame-ducks and out-party lame-ducks in model two, 0.6 percent vs. −1.2 percent, is the closest in terms of significance (p < 0.125).

66. Looking deeper at our results, one observes that the coefficients for the other party and majority party (president's party) dummy variables get considerably smaller moving from Table 1 to Table 2; moreover, the coefficients for the majority party (president's party) variables flip signs from positive to negative. What explains this? These results are driven by the participation-rate patterns of returning (i.e., reelected) House members. That is, between 1877 and 1933, returning House members participated more often on roll-call votes in lame-duck sessions than regular sessions. See Jeffery A. Jenkins and Timothy P. Nokken, “Member Participation and Leadership Strategy in the Lame-Duck Congressional Era,” paper presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL. As a result, once abstentions are taken into account in Table 2, we find that returning members (as captured by the other party and majority party [president's party] variables) often expressed no significant differences in party support when they in fact voted in regular sessions relative to lame-duck sessions. And sometimes they expressed significantly more party support in regular sessions, as indicated by the significant negative coefficient on the majority party (president's party) variable in model one (recall that the dependent variable is “party support in lame-duck session minus party support in regular session”).

67. As the coefficients in our key independent variables remain essentially the same in terms of magnitudes and statistical significance across the different specifications, we take this as evidence that cross-session agenda differences (and agenda manipulation efforts by leaders) were not great. This is especially true when examining coefficients from a basic model without fixed or variance effects (not reported here); once again, these coefficients did not vary substantially relative to those from more sophisticated models, suggesting that concerns about mean or variance shifts across session pairs (at least in this case) are unwarranted.

68. Elaine K. Swift, Robert G. Brookshire, David T. Canon, Evelyn C. Fink, John R. Hibbing, Brian D. Humes, Michael J. Malbin, and Kenneth C. Martis, Database of [United States] Congressional Historical Statistics, 1789–1989 [Computer file]. ICPSR version. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer], 2000. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2004.

69. Richardson, James D., A Compilation of Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789–1902 (Washington, DC: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1904)Google Scholar.

70. These eighty presidential-request roll calls can be described as follows: forty-seven (58.8%) were party-unity votes (as defined earlier in this section), sixty-nine (85.6%) were consistent with the preferences of a majority of the president's party, and sixty-nine (85.6%) resulted in outcomes consistent with the president's stated position.

71. NOMINATE scores, developed by Keith T. Poole and Howard Rosenthal, are the output of a scaling technique that uses members' roll-call vote choices as the inputs. See Poole and Rosenthal, Congress.

72. Norris, “Coddling the Lame Duck,” 214.

73. For a technical discussion of the PRE measure, see Poole and Rosenthal, Congress, 29–30.

74. See, for example, Norris, Fighting Liberal, 332.

75. This coding of House members was conducted by one of the authors. To identify last terms, he stacked Congresses, sorted by member number, and identified the last Congress in which each member served. After identifying when members exited the House, he used the Biographical Directory, both the hard copy and the online directory, to determine their method of exit. Members were coded as losing, retiring, seeking higher office, deceased, and as receiving a federal appointment. This coding was then checked against the data reported in the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research and Carroll McKibbin, Roster of United States Congressional Officeholders and Biographical Characteristics of Members of the United States Congress, 1789–1996: Merged Data [Computer file]. 10th ICPSR ed. (Ann Arbor, MI: Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer and distributor], 1997). With respect to appointees, some are dropped from the analyses because they received their post after leaving the House to seek a Senate seat or governorship.

76. Reelection losers and retirees were considered “eligible” lame ducks. Those who sought higher office or died were dropped.

77. These presidential support measures are calculated using all executive-request roll calls by Congress, rather than just those from lame-duck sessions. This is because the number of executive-request roll calls in lame-duck sessions was relatively small; as Table 3 documents, there were only eighty such roll calls across our period of analysis, with three different lame-duck sessions having none at all. Thus, with such a small sample, creating reliable presidential support scores would be difficult. As a result, we incorporated the full set of executive-request roll calls (from both regular and lame-duck sessions), which totaled 286 in all and ranged from a low of four (in the 45th, 50th, and 58th Congresses) to a high of twenty four (in the 51st Congress).

78. A negative coefficient is expected on the other party variable, indicating that members of the other party were less supportive of their party (and, thus, more supportive of the president's party) in lame-duck sessions.

79. Of the 273 executive appointments, 182 (or 66.7 percent) went to lame-duck members of the president's party.

80. See Cox, Gary W. and McCubbins, Mathew D., “Agenda Power in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1877–1986,” in Party, Process, and Political Change in Congress: New Perspectives on the History of Congress, ed. Brady, David W. and McCubbins, Mathew D. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002), 107–45Google Scholar; Cox, Gary W. and McCubbins, Mathew D., Setting the Agenda: Responsible Party Government in the U.S. House of Representatives (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005)Google Scholar.

81. Norris, “Mr. Dawes and the Senate Rules,” 583.

82. Norris, “Coddling the Lame Duck,” 213.

83. See Cox and McCubbins, Setting the Agenda, 93–94.

84. The HR bill difference is in fact borderline significant (p < 0.057).

85. Norris, Fighting Liberal, 332.

86. Binder, Sarah A., “Where Do Institutions Come From? Exploring the Origins of the Senate Blue Slip,” Studies in American Political Development 21 (2007): 115CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

87. Stewart, Charles III, “Architect or Tactician? Henry Clay and the Institutional Development of the U.S. House of Representatives,” in Party, Process, and Political Change in Congress, Volume 2: Further New Perspectives on the History of Congress, ed. Brady, David W. and McCubbins, Mathew D. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007), 133–56Google Scholar.

88. Rodgers, Daniel T., “In Search of Progressivism,” Reviews in American History 10 (1982): 113–32Google Scholar. See, also, Link, Arthur S., “What Happened to the Progressive Movement in the 1920's?The American Historical Review 64 (1959): 833–51Google Scholar; and McGerr, Michael, A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870–1920 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005)Google Scholar.

89. Hofstadter, Richard, The Age of Reform: From Bryan to F.D.R (New York: Knopf, 1955), 283Google Scholar.

90. See, for instance, Fellman, “The Liberalism of Senator Norris.”

91. Schickler, Disjointed Pluralism, 15.

92. Pierson, Paul, Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

93. Krehbiel, Keith, Information and Legislative Organization (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

94. Norris, “Mr. Dawes and the Senate Rules,” 582.

95. On the rise of filibusters and the change in the Senate environment since the 1960s, see Evans, C. Lawrence and Lapinski, Daniel, “Obstruction and Leadership in the U.S. Senate,” in Congress Reconsidered, Eighth Edition, ed. Dodd, Lawrence C. and Oppenheimer, Bruce I. (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2005)Google Scholar. On the politics of the filibuster (especially through 1946) and the emergence of cloture reform, see Wawro, Gregory J. and Schickler, Eric, Filibuster: Obstruction and Lawmaking in the U.S. Senate (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006)Google Scholar.

96. When Norris recounts his arguments for the Lame Duck Amendment in his 1945 autobiography, Fighting Liberal, he makes no mention of his claims regarding the disappearance of the filibuster. Of course, by then he realized that his filibuster-based argument did not in fact hold. Still, he only backed off his former claim slightly, contending, “The Lame Duck amendment … is a very effective method to prevent the filibuster” (175). He also stated: “I have always felt, especially since the adoption of the Lame Duck amendment, there ought to come a time under fair and judicial Senate procedure when useless and unnecessary talk should cease, and a majority of the Senate should be able to express its will” (176).

97. See Keith T. Poole, “Changing Minds? Not in Congress!Public Choice 131 (2007): 435–51, 435CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On this point, see also Poole and Rosenthal, Congress.

98. Poole, “Changing Minds?” 449.

99. McArthur, John and Marks, Stephen V., “Constituent Interest vs. Legislator Ideology: The Role of Political Opportunity Cost,” Economic Inquiry 26 (1988): 461–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The legislation, according to the authors, “would have required firms selling passenger cars and light trucks in the United States to incur specified minimum percentages of their labor and parts costs in the United States, and thus would have sharply cut U.S. imports of automobiles and automobile components” (462).

100. Rothenberg, Lawrence S. and Sanders, Mitchell S., “Lame Duck Politics: Impending Departure and the Votes on Impeachment,” Political Research Quarterly 53 (2000): 523–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

101. Lawrence, Christopher N., “Of Shirking, Outliers, and Statistical Artifacts: Lame-Duck Legislators and Support for Impeachment,” Political Research Quarterly 60 (2007): 159–62Google Scholar. See also Rothenberg, Lawrence S. and Sanders, Mitchell, “Still Shirking,” Political Research Quarterly 60 (2007): 163–64Google Scholar.

102. Jenkins, Jeffery A. and Nokken, Timothy P., “Partisanship, the Electoral Connection, and Lame-Duck Sessions of Congress, 1877–2006,” Journal of Politics 70 (forthcoming)Google Scholar.

103. On roll rates across this era, see Jenkins and Nokken, “Partisanship, the Electoral Connection, and Lame-Duck Sessions of Congress.”

104. See Jenkins and Nokken, “Partisanship, the Electoral Connection, and Lame-Duck Sessions of Congress.”

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