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Explaining Partisanship on Special Rules in the Postreform House

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Informational, distributive and partisan theories offer competing interpretations of the role of restrictive rules in the US House. Empirical tests in this literature focus almost exclusively on the amendment restriction portion of special rules, treating open rules as friendly and restrictive rules as unfriendly to the minority party or chamber as a whole. Oddly, however, there is a significant amount of conflict - partisan conflict in particular - connected with open rules. This suggests that the structuring of amendment possibilities cannot be the only relevant feature of special rules and that an exclusive focus on amendment restrictions might cause analysts to underestimate the importance of partisanship in the rules process. We find that partisan conflict on special rules results not only from the restrictiveness of the rule, but also from specific types of waivers (especially blanket waivers and waivers protecting legislative language in appropriations bills) and other under-studied features of special rules (such as time caps and pre-print requirements).
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Keywords: Congressional procedures; house waivers; legislative organisation; partisanship; special rules

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-12-01

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