Parties, Preferences, and Petitions: Discharge Behavior in the Modern House



Although discharge petitions lie at the confluence of personal preferences, committee prerogatives, and party leadership in Congress, these procedures have received little scholarly scrutiny. We capitalize on the public nature of petition signatures since 1993 to examine the behavior of the most cross-pressured members in discharge battles: bill sponsors and cosponsors belonging to the majority party who personally prefer the bills they have sponsored but who face party pressure not to sign the petitions that threaten the leadership's control of the legislative agenda. After controlling for personal preferences, we find a statistically significant partisan effect in the U.S. House, which further illuminates the “Where's the party?” debate.