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Summary: Congressional Procedures is the definitive work on how congressional rules, procedures, and traditions affect the course and content of legislation. From committee room to the floor, in the House and in the Senate, the fundamentals of lawmaking are made clear for the student of the legislative process. In a highly readable format-including dozens of lively examples, illustrations, charts, and extracts from real documents-the author explains the role of congressional ...show moreleadership, illustrates the use of strategic tactics such as the Senate's filibuster, and elucidates complicated parliamentary processes such as the amendment procedure. This edition maintains the approach, structure, and clarity of previous editions, but has been extensively updated through the first half of 1995. New to this edition is the addition of a wealth of material on changes in congressional procedures in the 1990s, including the elimination of proxy voting in committees and the super-majority vote required for passing income tax rate increases. On the staff of the Congressional Research Service, Oleszek brings invaluable insider's knowledge to discussion of congressional reform. Other examples addressed in the book of recent changes in congressional rules and their impact include: the recentralization of power in the Speaker; the shift from restrictive to open rules; the adoption of term limits for committee chairpersons; the elimination of joint referrals; limitations on committee assignments; and more system.
Congress is constantly adapting to change. New procedures, processes, and practices come about in response to developing conditions and circumstances. Some procedural innovations are incorporated formally in the rules of the House or Senate; others evolve informally. For all their variability over time, the rules of the House and Senate are constant in this sense: they establish the procedural context within which individual members and the two chambers raise issues and make (or avoid making) decisions. Members of Congress, in sum, must rely upon rules and procedures to expedite or delay legislation, to secure enactment, or to bring about the defeat of bills.
Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process was first published in 1978, in the aftermath of major changes that affected legislative decision making and the political system. The result of many of these developments on Capitol Hill was to diffuse policy-making influence widely throughout Congress. The term often employed to describe this new environment was ''subcommittee government.'' Six years later, when the second edition appeared, the House and Senate had undergone further procedural transformations. The House, for instance, began gavel-to-gavel television coverage of its floor proceedings. The third edition was published in the late 1980s and discussed important procedural and institutional changes in both chambers. Emulating the House, the Senate in 1986 began gavel-to-gavel television coverage of its floor proceedings. Congress revamped its budgetary practices with the enactment of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings I and II; the House Rules Committee crafted unique new ''rules'' for regulating floor decision making; and greater use was made of comprehensive bills, or ''packages,'' to process much of Congress's annual workload. One effect of these and other changes has been to recentralize authority in fewer legislative hands.
The fourth edition has been updated during another time of momentous change on Capitol Hill. After forty years as the ''permanent minority,'' Republicans captured control of the House in the November 1994 elections and reclaimed control of the Senate as well. Major procedural changes have occurred in both houses, and Congress is discussing fundamental questions of national governance. Today, the political parties, Congress, and the executive and judicial branches are debating which functions are national responsibilities and which can be returned to the states and localities or handled by the private sector. ''Toward a New Federalism'' is the overarching theme that orients many significant activities of the 104th Congress (1995-1997) and no doubt legislative sessions to follow. That a great deal of change-the centralization of significant authority in the House Speaker, innovative rules from the House Rules Committee, or new types of filibustering tactics in the Senate, for example--has occurred in Congress is beyond doubt. Accordingly, I have incorporated in this edition discussion of new rules and practices and new examples and materials that highlight how Congress modifies its decision-making procedures.
The fundamental objective of the fourth edition of Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process is to discuss how the contemporary Congress makes laws and how its rules and procedures shape domestic and foreign policy. The theme of the book is that the interplay of rules, procedures, precedents, and strategies is vital to understanding how Congress works. I emphasize the rules and procedures most significant to congressional lawmaking; I do not attempt to survey all the rules and procedures used by Congress.
While the format and structure of the new edition closely follow that of the third, every chapter has been revised. Chapter 1 presents an overall view of the congressional process. In Chapter 2, the focus shifts to the organizational setting and political environment of Congress to examine differences between the House and Senate; the leadership structure in Congress; pressures exerted on Congress; and recent changes in Congress's operations. Chapter 3 examines Congress's budget process, which shapes much of the legislative decision making.
Chapter 4 turns to the initial steps of the legislative process-the introduction and referral of bills to House and Senate committees, and committee action on measures. Chapter 5 explains how legislation that has emerged from committee is scheduled for floor consideration in the House. Chapter 6 then examines the main features of floor decisionmaking in the House. In Chapter 7 the spotlight is put on the Senate, with discussion of how legislation is scheduled in that chamber. Senate floor action is the subject of Chapter 8.
Chapter 9 first describes how House-Senate differences are reconciled when each chamber passes a different version of the same bill and then discusses the president's veto power. Chapter 10 deals with how Congress monitors the implementation of the laws it has passed. The final chapter reexamines the legislative process, pulling together the major themes of the book.
My intellectual indebtedness extends to numerous scholars and colleagues, and I welcome the opportunity to acknowledge their generous assistance. My editor at CQ Press, John L. Moore, contributed greatly to the book's readability. Kerry Kern skillfully steered (or ''floor managed'') the book through the production stages; her production and editorial assistance was outstanding. My thanks, too, must go to CQ Books executives David R. Tarr, editor-in-chief; Nancy Lammers, director of book editorial design and production; and Brenda Carter, acquisitions editor for college texts, for their encouragement and support throughout this project.
Much credit for whatever understanding I have of the congressional process is due in large measure to my colleagues at the Congressional Research Service. Over the years I have learned the intricacies of the House and Senate from scores of CRS associates. Their research endeavors have expanded everyone's understanding of Congress's role and responsibilities. There are too many to acknowledge by name (it would constitute scores of outstanding colleagues in the American Law and Government divisions of the Office of Senior Specialists of CRS), but their ideas and insights permeate virtually every chapter of this book. CRS, I should note, bears no responsibility whatsoever for the views or interpretations expressed within these pages. I must also emphasize that whatever errors remain in this book are mine alone.
I am indebted also to scores of past and present House and Senate members and professional congressional aides who over the years have shared ideas and observations and deepened my understanding of the legislative process. The same can be said of numerous colleagues in academia whose research studies have provided us all with a reservoir of knowledge about congressional activities and operations. My intellectual debt also extends to University of Minnesota Professor Steven S. Smith and to Professor Charles Tiefer, currently at the University of Baltimore Law School and formerly the deputy general counsel and solicitor of the House of Representatives, for making useful suggestions for improvement of the manuscript.
Finally, I dedicate this fourth edition to family members. Above all, I am grateful to Janet, Mark, and Eric. They provided a loving and encouraging home environment, good humor, and family support throughout. This book is also dedicated to Missy and Lee Isgur, whose wit, wisdom, and acumen expanded our horizons in so many worthwhile ways.
Walter J. Oleszek
''I have used Walter Oleszek's book on congressional procedure with great success. It provides the basics in a readable and comprehensive form . . .''
-- Charles O. Jones, University of Wisconsin
''Recommended for all libraries.''
-- Choice (March, 1996)
''. . . the single best contemporary book on congressional rules and procedures.''
-- The Journal of Legislative Studies (1995)
Congressional Quarterly Books Web Site, October, 2000
Chapter 1. Congress and Lawmaking
The Constitutional Context
Congress: An Independent Policy Maker
Functions of Rules and Procedures
Rules and Policy Making in Congress
Congressional Decision Making
Chapter 2. The Congressional Environment
The House and Senate Compared
Leadership Structure of Congress
Pressures on Members
Congress in Flux
Chapter 3. The Congressional Budget Process
Prelude to Budget Reform
The 1974 Budget Act
Evolution of the Budget Process
Chapter 4. Preliminary Legislative Action
Categories of Legislation
Bill Referral Procedure
Consideration in Committee
Committee Chairman's Role
Chapter 5. Scheduling Legislation in the House
The House Legislative Calendars
Minor and Noncontroversial Bills
Role of the Rules Committee
Legislation Blocked in Committee
Final Scheduling Steps
Chapter 6. House Floor Procedure
Adoption of the "Rule"
Committee of the Whole
The Amending Process
Final Procedural Steps
Chapter 7. Scheduling Legislation in the Senate
Flexible Scheduling System
Scheduling Procedures Compared
Senate Leadership and Unanimous Consent
Breakdowns in Scheduling
Chapter 8. Senate Floor Procedure
"Legislative" and "Calendar" Days
Daily Order of Business
Debate in the Modern Senate
Bills Considered by Unanimous Consent
The Amending Process
Bills Without Unanimous Consent
Procedures to Circumvent Committees
Chapter 9. Resolving House-Senate Differences
Agreement Without a Conference
Why Conference Committees?
Conference Committee Process
Presidential Approval or Veto
Chapter 10. Legislative Oversight
Techniques of Oversight
Lack of Consensus on Oversight
Chapter 11. A Dynamic Process
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