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Investigating the Incidence of Killer Amendments in Congress

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While much empirical research has been devoted to the study of “killer amendments” in recent years, few studies have explicitly examined the theoretical foundations of the phenomenon. The goal of this paper is to investigate why some killer amendment attempts are successful, when theory suggests that they should always fail. More specifically, we examine the practical political constraints on legislators’ abilities to neutralize the imminent threat of killer amendments through sophisticated voting. We also present two new cases, both occurring during the Reconstruction era, in which killer amendments were used successfully. In the end, our findings support previous research on all successful killer amendments detailed in the congressional literature: race was the issue under consideration at the amendment stage.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-05-01

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