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Setting the Agenda
Responsible Party Government in the U.S. House of Representatives

$34.99 (P)

  • Date Published: September 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521619967

$ 34.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Scholars of the U.S. House disagree over the importance of political parties in organizing the legislative process. On the one hand, non-partisan theories stress how congressional organization serves members' non-partisan goals. On the other hand, partisan theories argue that the House is organized to serve the collective interests of the majority party. This book advances a partisan theory and presents a series of empirical tests of that theory's predictions (pitted against others). The evidence demonstrates that the majority party seizes agenda control at nearly every stage of the legislative process in order to prevent bills that the party dislikes from reaching the floor.

    • Was the first comprehensive analysis of who wins on final passage votes in the U.S. House since Reconstruction
    • Was the first comprehensive analysis of the direction (left or right) that bills reaching final passage votes propose to move policy in the post-Reconstruction U.S. House
    • Features extensive range of quantitative evidence in support of the agenda control theory
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "In this follow up to their previous work on congressional parties, Cox and McCubbins have made a major contribution to the scientific understanding of Congress. The theoretical argument is tightly reasoned and persuasive, and the evidence is extensive and convincing. Setting the Agenda will be widely adopted in courses and will shape the research agendas of other scholars for years to come." David Rohde, Michigan State University

    "This is a majestic book on Congress. Cox and McCubbins provide a new approach to the most important questions in the field: Why is Congress organized as it is? What is the role of parties in Congress? What do congressional leaders do? What does the Rules Committee do? Moreover, this book seeks to reinterpret critical moments in congressional history, such as the Reed Rules in 1890 and the era of the so-called "textbook Congress" of the mid-twentieth century. This book succeeds on every dimension. Given the controversies in this literature, it will be read by every student of Congress." Barry Weingast, Stanford University

    "Setting the Agenda is a remarkable achievement. It responds with impressive historical sweep to more than a decade of research on parties in Congress, and it significantly advances our theoretical understanding of why parties matter. This work will itself set the agenda for scholarship on Congress and its parties in the years to come." Sarah Binder, George Washington University

    "Another Cox and McCubbins masterpiece. Building on the theory in Legislative Leviathan of why parties form, Setting the Agenda explains why and how parties matter. By controlling the agenda party leaders can stop policies their members do not like and can ensure party discipline by preventing votes on issues on which their members have conflicting opinions. This has implications beyond the US Congress, for understanding politics and policy-making in parliaments throughout the democratic world." Simon Hix, London School of Economics and Political Science

    “Cox and McCubbins make a powerful case for viewing agenda control as a persistent and fundamental dimension of party influence in the modern U.S. Congress. Even readers who may not be persuaded that this mode of analysis captures the full range of contributions parties and leaders make to congressional politics will benefit from a close reading of this study.” – Randall Strahan, Emory University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2005
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521619967
    • length: 352 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • contains: 20 b/w illus. 21 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Part I. Why Party Government?:
    2. Procedural Cartel theory
    Part II. Negative Agenda Power:
    3. Cartel agenda model vs. floor agenda model
    4. The primacy of Reed's rules in house organization
    5. Final passage votes
    6. The costs of agenda control
    7. The textbook congress and the committee on rules
    8. The bills reported from committee
    9. Which way does policy move?
    Part III. The Consequences of Positive Agenda Power and Conditional Party Government:
    10. Positive agenda power
    11. Conclusion.

  • Authors

    Gary W. Cox, University of California, San Diego
    Gary W. Cox is a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. In addition to numerous articles in the areas of legislative and electoral politics, he is author of The Efficient Secret (winner of the Samuel H. Beer dissertation prize in 1983), coauthor of Legislative Leviathan (winner of the Richard F. Fenno Prize in 1993), and author of Making Votes Count: Strategic Coordination in the World's Electoral Systems (1997), which was awarded APSA's awards for the best book in political science (Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award), the best book in comparative politics (Gregory Luebbert Prize), and for the best book in political economy. His latest book, Elbridge Gerry's Salamander, analyzes the political consequences of the reapportionment revolution in the United States. Cox is a former Guggenheim Fellow and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996.

    Mathew D. McCubbins, University of California, San Diego
    Mathew D. McCubbins is a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. His authored works include Legislative Leviathan: Party Government in the House (1993); Under the Watchful Eye: Managing Presidential Campaigns in the Television Era (1992); Recent co-edited books include The Origins of Liberty: Political and Economic Liberalization in the Modern World (1997); and Elements of Reason: Cognition, Choice, and the Bounds of Rationality (2000). His most recent book is Stealing the Initiative: How State Government Responds to Direct Democracy (2001) with Elisabeth Gerber, Arthur Lupia, and D. Roderick Kiewiet. McCubbins is also the author of numerous articles in journals such as Legislative Studies Quarterly; Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization; Law and Contemporary Problems; and the American Journal of Political Science. He is the coordinator of the Law and the Behavioral Sciences Project and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences for 1994–95.

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