Congressional Committees

C. Lawrence Evans

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199559947
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Congressional Committees

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This article outlines significant changes that have happened in congressional scholarship as it relates to committees. This article argues that the transformation of committee research reflects the emergence of rational choice modeling and increased methodological sophistication within the field of political science. While congressional scholars have often led the way in formulating and testing formal methods of politics, the transformation of committee scholarship has also arisen from important changes that have occurred within Congress since the 1960s, specifically the growing importance of party cleavages on the major issues of today. These changes have made the institution more open to rational choice analysis. The scholarly attention which is now devoted to internal committee operations and decision-making also created avenues for new research. Even within a Congress polarized along party lines, most significant legislative decisions remain to occur within the committee stage of the process, and the majority of the questions raised concerning congressional committees by the previous scholars remain relevant in Congress today.

Keywords: congressional scholarship; rational choice modeling; committee; Congress; congressional committees

Article.  14248 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Institutions

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