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Legislating in the Dark: Information and Power in the House of Representatives

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The 2009 financial stimulus bill ran to more than 1,100 pages, yet it wasn’t even given to Congress in its final form until thirteen hours before debate was set to begin, and it was passed twenty-eight hours later. How are representatives expected to digest so much information in such a short time. The answer? They aren’t. With Legislating in the Dark, James M. Curry revea The 2009 financial stimulus bill ran to more than 1,100 pages, yet it wasn’t even given to Congress in its final form until thirteen hours before debate was set to begin, and it was passed twenty-eight hours later. How are representatives expected to digest so much information in such a short time. The answer? They aren’t. With Legislating in the Dark, James M. Curry reveals that the availability of information about legislation is a key tool through which Congressional leadership exercises power. Through a deft mix of legislative analysis, interviews, and participant observation, Curry shows how congresspersons—lacking the time and resources to study bills deeply themselves—are forced to rely on information and cues from their leadership. By controlling their rank-and-file’s access to information, Congressional leaders are able to emphasize or bury particular items, exploiting their information advantage to push the legislative agenda in directions that they and their party prefer. Offering an unexpected new way of thinking about party power and influence, Legislating in the Dark will spark substantial debate in political science.


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The 2009 financial stimulus bill ran to more than 1,100 pages, yet it wasn’t even given to Congress in its final form until thirteen hours before debate was set to begin, and it was passed twenty-eight hours later. How are representatives expected to digest so much information in such a short time. The answer? They aren’t. With Legislating in the Dark, James M. Curry revea The 2009 financial stimulus bill ran to more than 1,100 pages, yet it wasn’t even given to Congress in its final form until thirteen hours before debate was set to begin, and it was passed twenty-eight hours later. How are representatives expected to digest so much information in such a short time. The answer? They aren’t. With Legislating in the Dark, James M. Curry reveals that the availability of information about legislation is a key tool through which Congressional leadership exercises power. Through a deft mix of legislative analysis, interviews, and participant observation, Curry shows how congresspersons—lacking the time and resources to study bills deeply themselves—are forced to rely on information and cues from their leadership. By controlling their rank-and-file’s access to information, Congressional leaders are able to emphasize or bury particular items, exploiting their information advantage to push the legislative agenda in directions that they and their party prefer. Offering an unexpected new way of thinking about party power and influence, Legislating in the Dark will spark substantial debate in political science.

32 review for Legislating in the Dark: Information and Power in the House of Representatives

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

    A nuanced look at the house of representatives which changed my views on a number of things. Highly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christian Lindke

  3. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Zimmer

  4. 5 out of 5

    Johanna

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt Grossmann

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Hessman

  7. 5 out of 5

    Keith

  8. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Castaneda

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Schutt

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rosie Carter

  11. 4 out of 5

    Liz Wandersee

  12. 4 out of 5

    Donald Forster

  13. 5 out of 5

    Martin

  14. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  15. 5 out of 5

    J.D. Rackey

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Boardman

  17. 4 out of 5

    Yalta

  18. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marlon Ramirez

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sally

  21. 4 out of 5

    Charles Baker

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  23. 5 out of 5

    M

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amar Baines

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Jordan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Adam Le

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Molseed

  31. 5 out of 5

    Deneidra

  32. 4 out of 5

    Odile

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