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Congressional Capacity and Bipartisanship in Congress

Congressional Capacity and Bipartisanship in Congress

Chapter:
(p.239) 15 Congressional Capacity and Bipartisanship in Congress
Source:
Congress Overwhelmed
Author(s):
Laurel Harbridge-Yong
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226702605.003.0015

This chapter explores the interplay between bipartisanship and congressional capacity through a focus on two questions. First, why is bipartisanship important for Congress to solve problems and govern? Second, how are the institutional structures underlying congressional capacity—the distribution of staff across personal, committee, and leadership offices, and whether staffers are focused on policy or public relations—tied to patterns of bipartisanship? The answers to these questions highlight how bipartisanship among members contributes to legislative productivity as well as to members’ legislative and electoral success. The results of a collaborative survey of congressional staff show how institutional structures, and not just personal characteristics of staff, affect the likelihood of working across the aisle. Staffers in personal offices are less likely to engage in bipartisanship than committee staffers, and staffers focused on public relations are less likely to engage in bipartisanship than staffers in policy-focused roles. Combined, the results highlight the importance of institutional structures and investment in resources for legislative interactions, bipartisanship, and productivity.

Keywords:   congressional capacity, bipartisanship, Congressional Capacity Survey, legislative productivity, institutional structures, committee staff, party leadership staff, public relations staff, govern, Congress

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