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Recurring bills and the legislative process in the US congress

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Recurring bills may be interpreted in two very different ways. First, there is the ‘legislative loser' perspective, which posits that legislators introduce bills repeatedly for symbolic reasons, not intending or expecting them to go very far. Alternatively, there is the ‘softening up' perspective, which assumes that legislators introduce bills more than once for policy reasons. They first test the waters, making a second attempt more successful. In this research article, we test these assumptions by examining the legislative impact of recurring bill status at various stages in the US House and Senate: initial committee attention, committee passage, attachment to an omnibus package and enactment. The evidence is mixed for the first stage of the process, while the findings for subsequent stages support the softening up interpretation. We discuss the implications for representation and future research.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, University of Oklahoma 2: University of Oklahoma

Publication date: 2006-03-01

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