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Negative Agenda Control in the Senate and House: Fingerprints of Majority Party Power

Authors


Sean Gailmard is assistant professor of political science, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720. Jeffery A. Jenkins is associate professor of politics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904.

Abstract

We present evidence suggesting that the majority party in the U.S. Senate exercises significant negative agenda control. Furthermore, this majority party negative agenda control in the Senate is very similar, in empirical terms, to negative agenda control exercised by the majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives. This evidence comes from comparisons of majority party roll rates across legislative vehicles (S bills, confirmation votes, and conference reports) and across chambers of Congress. Majority party roll rates respond to disagreement with other political actors as if the Senate majority party does restrict agenda access. Moreover, the response of majority party roll rates to disagreement with other political actors is very similar across the two chambers. Given that explanations of majority party negative agenda control in the House are often predicated on chamber-specific factors with no clear analogues in the Senate, the results reveal a striking cross-chamber similarity.

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