Why Congressional Reforms Fail
Reelection and the House Committee System
What lies behind the House's resistance to change? Challenging recent explanations of this phenomenon, Scott Adler contends that legislators resist rearranging committee powers and jurisdictions for the same reason they cling to the current House structure—the ambition for reelection. The system's structure works to the members' advantage, helping them obtain funding (and favor) in their districts. Using extensive evidence from three major reform periods—the 1940s, 1970s, and 1990s—Adler shows that the reelection motive is still the most important underlying factor in determining the outcome of committee reforms, and he explains why committee reform in the House has never succeeded and probably never will.
1. Introduction: Why Is Congressional Structure So "Sticky"?
2. Understanding a Gains-from-Exchange Theory of
Committee Structure and Change
3. Demand-Side Theory and Congressional Committee
Composition: A Constituency Characteristics Approach
4. Distrubitve Politics and Federal Outlays
5. The Postwar Failure of Congressional Reform:
The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946
6. Protecting Turf in a Reform Era: Distributive
Politics and Congressional Committee Reform
in the 93rd Congress
7. Committee Reforms under Partisan Politics
8. Conclusion: Beyond "Instituational Navel Gazing"
American Political Science Association: APSA-Alan Rosenthal Award