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Congress OverwhelmedThe Decline in Congressional Capacity and Prospects for Reform$
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Timothy M. LaPira, Lee Drutman, and Kevin R. Kosar

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226702438

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226702605.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 July 2021

Congressional Capacity and Bipartisanship in Congress

Congressional Capacity and Bipartisanship in Congress

(p.239) 15 Congressional Capacity and Bipartisanship in Congress
Congress Overwhelmed

Laurel Harbridge-Yong

University of Chicago Press

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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