Legislative Effectiveness in the United States Congress

Legislative Effectiveness in the United States Congress : The Lawmakers

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This book explores why some members of Congress are more effective than others at navigating the legislative process and what this means for how Congress is organized and what policies it produces. Craig Volden and Alan E. Wiseman develop a new metric of individual legislator effectiveness (the Legislative Effectiveness Score) that will be of interest to scholars, voters, and politicians alike. They use these scores to study party influence in Congress, the successes or failures of women and African Americans in Congress, policy gridlock, and the specific strategies that lawmakers employ to advance their agendas.
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Table of contents

1. Introduction; 2. Measuring legislative effectiveness; 3. The keys to majority-party effectiveness in Congress; 4. A tale of three minorities; 5. Gridlock and effective lawmaking, issue by issue; 6. The habits of highly effective lawmakers; 7. The future of legislative effectiveness.
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About Craig Volden

Craig Volden is Professor of Public Policy and Politics, with appointments in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics, at the University of Virginia. He has published numerous articles in such journals as the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, and Publius: The Journal of Federalism. Volden is co-author (with David W. Brady) of Revolving Gridlock: Politics and Policy from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush (2006). Alan E. Wiseman is Associate Professor of Political Science, with a secondary appointment in Law, and co-director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in journals such as the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, and the Journal of Theoretical Politics. He is the author of The Internet Economy: Access, Taxes, and Market Structure (2000).
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Review quote

'This groundbreaking research shows the value of having more women in Congress. Among other important findings, Volden and Wiseman clearly show that women more effectively build coalitions across party lines and focus more directly on getting things done. That has certainly been my experience throughout the past two decades, and it reinforces what I've said all along: we need more women in public office. The answer to the partisan gridlock that currently plagues congress can be found in a very simple question: where are the women?' Carolyn Maloney, United States Representative (Democrat - New York) 'Why are some legislators more effective than others? How and why does lawmaking prowess matter? In this innovative and convincing new book, Volden and Wiseman offer a deep and impressive dive into the concept and measurement of legislative effectiveness. The analysis is crisp and creative, and it will force students of Congress to think more systematically about the motivations and talents that underpin lawmakers' contributions on Capitol Hill.' Sarah Binder, George Washington University and The Brookings Institution 'Assessing the quality of our elected representatives is a fundamental problem in democratic politics. In this outstanding book, Volden and Wiseman develop an innovative new measure for legislator effectiveness that provides important insights into the types of members who are successful and into the role of political institutions in influencing who is likely to be effective.' Eric Schickler, Jeffrey and Ashley McDermott Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley 'By devising and applying a thoughtful new measure of legislative effectiveness, this landmark study fundamentally recasts methodological individualism. Members of Congress are certainly single-minded seekers of re-election. But they are also lawmakers. The elegance of Volden and Wiseman's reframing will change how we view Congress and parliamentary skill - and quite possibly restore our faith in Congress. Their book richly deserves a place in undergraduate and graduate courses on Congress, leadership, and methods.' Rick Valelly, Claude C. Smith '14 Professor of Political Science, Swarthmore College
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