BEHAVIOR & IDENTITIES WORKSHOP: James Curry (University of Utah)
"The Consequences of the Decline of 'Regular Order' in Congress"
Part of the Robert R. Wilson Lecture Series, co-sponsored by Duke Political Science and the Sanford School of Public Policy
Much has been made of the erosion of traditional, "regular order" processes in Congress in recent years. Congressional scholars, observers, and practitioners alike have lamented the movement away from these textbook approaches to congressional legislating, and toward more behind-the-scenes, informal, and secretive legislative processes that Sinclair (2016) terms "unorthodox lawmaking." The general consensus is that these changes to Congress should have had a number of detrimental consequences for the institution, chief among them the weakening of committees and an inappropriate rise in partisan lawmaking. Yet, while these expectations are widespread, they have not been closely assessed. In two papers (one co-authored with Frances E. Lee), I examine these expectations and find that contrary to popular wisdom the erosion of "regular order" in Congress has not led to a clear weakening of committee power or a clear rise in partisan lawmaking. As much as things change, they also remain the same.