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Can today's gridlocked Senate still perform the vital role in lawmaking entrusted to it by the Constitution? Too Weak to Govern examines the ability of the Senate majority party to tame the unruly Senate floor and pass the federal budget. Drawing on rigorous analysis and interviews with Senate leaders, it shows how the majority party manipulates the passage of appropriations bills to create massive “omnibus” spending bills. Omnibus bills help the majority party to overcome trouble on the floor and pass a budget at the cost of reducing transparency, accountability and the opportunity for senators to participate in lawmaking. Too Weak to Govern challenges traditional accounts of parties in Congress by demonstrating that the Senate majority party has more power to control the chamber than believed and that it is likely to use this power when it is weak and struggling to meet its goals.Read more
- Shows that the difficulty in managing the Senate floor is partly responsible for the breakdown in the federal budget process
- Studies the Senate over four decades to offer valuable insights into the nature and extent of the power of the Senate majority party
- Includes interviews with former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and Trent Lott
- A Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2015
Reviews & endorsements
"Peter Hanson’s experience in the Senate gives him substantial insight into the chamber. He explains the challenge of leading the Senate and how contention on the floor is linked to the breakdown of the appropriations process. This is a valuable book for policy makers, students and anyone interested in understanding today’s Senate."
Tom Daschle, former Senator and Senate Majority LeaderSee more reviews
"In an era when congressional parties are often described as all-powerful managers of legislative agendas, Peter Hanson’s excellent study of budgetary politics in the modern Congress highlights the limits of party influence. Drawing on extensive fieldwork and thoughtful data analysis, Hanson highlights critical gaps between our theories of congressional parties and the real-world organizations these theories supposedly describe."
William T. Bianco, Indiana University
"In this important study, Peter Hanson demonstrates that the rise of massive omnibus spending bills reflects the often-desperate efforts of Senate majorities to defend their reputation for governance, rather than an effort to dictate policy. Contrary to prevailing models of party government, Hanson shows that majority leaders’ aggressive actions actually reflect their party’s weakness and divisions, rather than its strength."
Eric Schickler, Professor, Jeffrey and Ashley McDermott Endowed Chair and Department Chair, University of California, Berkeley
"In short, Too Weak to Govern is a worthy contribution to our understanding of the US Senate. It not only shows that majority parties in the chamber can exercise influence in the appropriations process but also shows the conditions under which they do. Those who maintain that Senate parties and their leaders are without power or, conversely, that they are effectively the same as their counterparts in the House will have to reckon with Hanson’s fine tome."
Matthew N. Green, Perspectives on Politics
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- Date Published: November 2014
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107635876
- length: 206 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
- weight: 0.32kg
- contains: 46 b/w illus. 25 tables
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
List of figures
List of tables
1. The limited-influence theory of the Senate
2. Testing expectations
3. The first wave (1979–87)
4. Back to the regular order
5. The second wave (1995–2012)
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