Hitting the Ground Running by maqboolshahin


									Hitting the Ground Running: the Influence of Career Preparation on Apprenticeship in the U.S. House of Representatives
Presented to: Southern Political Science Association Annual Meeting January 10, 2004 New Orleans, LA Diane L. Duffin and Pam Schoenrock University of Nebraska at Kearney Department of Political Science 2200 Founders Hall Kearney, NE 68849-5110 308-865-8758 duffind@unk.edu

ABSTRACT Prevailing theory on congressional recruitment holds that individuals with occupational backgrounds in the law and public service are well equipped to mount successful campaigns for Congress. By virtue of their training and practice, attorneys and public administrators possess the necessary skills and support networks to compete successfully in electoral politics. Those same attributes also might predict a shorter apprenticeship period in Congress for freshman members. Although Steven Smith and others were ready to sign a death certificate for apprenticeship by the 1980s, Richard Hall has more recently revived scholarly interest in the idea. In his 1996 study of participation in Congress, Hall finds that apprenticeship is still at work, not because of social pressures to conform, but because junior members suffer from information disadvantages and have yet to build the network of personal relationships that facilitates moving legislation forward. This study develops and tests a still more nuanced view of apprenticeship. We propose that members’ pre-congressional careers influence the speed with which they move through their apprenticeship periods. In particular, attorneys, with experience requiring strong communication and analytic abilities, and public administrators, with previous knowledge of public policy and legislative processes, should reach the stage of active legislative participation more quickly than members hailing from careers in journalism, health care, or agriculture, for instance. We test this hypothesis by comparing the degree of participation among freshmen House members from different occupational backgrounds in their sponsorship of bills and in their sponsorship of bills unrelated to the work of their own committees.

Apprenticeship and Lawmaking Apprenticeship in the U.S. House of Representatives, both in practice and in the way political scientists understand it, has undergone tremendous changes in the past generation. Regardless of one’s view on the state of apprenticeship (is it a norm or not? is it dead or not?), the fact remains that junior House members are less engaged in lawmaking than their more senior colleagues. This study begins with that stipulation, and seeks to understand what drives the lawmaking participation we do observe among House freshmen in the 1990s. Dating back to Matthews (1960) and developed further by the committee-based studies of Fenno (1966) and Manley (1970), a traditional view of apprenticeship held that junior members were trained by their senior colleagues to keep their mouths shut and their eyes and ears open. It takes time to learn the processes of Capitol Hill, and newcomers learn best by observation. This take on apprenticeship fits Fenno’s (1978) description of congressional careers unfolding in two phases. In the first phase, the “constituency career,” members devote most of their effort to cultivating and securing a re-election constituency. Once members begin to feel electorally safe (however individuals choose to define it), their attention turns toward the “Washington career,” which emphasizes the lawmaking function. One lawmaker, approaching the end of his second term, described to Fenno how the learning process has constrained his activity in office: “The trouble is, I haven’t been a congressman yet. The first two years, I spent all of my time getting myself reelected. That last two years, I spent getting myself a district so that I could get reelected. So I won’t be a congressman until next year” (1978, p. 215). The reform period of the 1970s is recognized as signaling a change in members’ attitudes toward apprenticeship. A harbinger of this shift came in a study of norm-learning by Herbert Asher (1973). In interviews with House members, Asher learned that almost half of his sample


“flatly denied the necessity of serving an apprenticeship” (1973, p. 509). Steven Smith (1989) later argued that apprenticeship was a dying norm in the postreform House due to the fact that ever-larger numbers of junior members were participating in floor activity. John Hibbing’s work on congressional careers (1991) offers equivocal evidence on the demise of apprenticeship in the House. On one hand, Hibbing finds that junior members held a greater share of formal institutional positions in the 1970s and 1980s than they did in the 1950s and 1960s, suggesting that newer members are being placed into positions that facilitate active participation at a faster rate than was previously the case. On the other hand, though, Hibbing finds that junior members were relatively less active in floor participation (sponsoring bills, making floor speeches, offering amendments) during the 1970s and 1980s than was true in the 1950s and 1960s. Richard Hall provided a needed update of our understanding of apprenticeship in his 1996 book on participation in Congress. In that work, Hall urged students of apprenticeship to stop thinking of it as a norm driven by social pressures and confront junior-member participation in terms of information economics. Hall argues that freshmen still participate in lawmaking less than their more senior colleagues, despite the increased floor activity among junior members Smith observed in the postreform period. The difference in participation by tenure is not because of social pressure to conform, Hall concludes, but because freshmen lack the informational tools necessary to participate effectively: “In short, the freshman member will tend to have inferior knowledge of the legislative background, substantive issues and political possibilities associated with action on a particular issue” (1996, p. 102). These attributes that freshmen supposedly lack -- “knowledge of the legislative background, substantive issues and political possibilities” -- focus our attention on what it takes


to be a participant in lawmaking in the House. Clearly, some freshmen have these attributes in place. The interesting question, then, is what characteristics distinguish these members? Can we identify traits that help predict which freshmen will “hit the ground running” when it comes to lawmaking? Several features in members’ personal and professional backgrounds, as well as their institutional positions in the House, suggest possible explanations. Occupational Background The literature on congressional service is almost silent on the subject of occupational background, despite Matthews' call for more investigation into congressional career preparation as early as 1954. Where occupation is discussed in the contemporary literature, it is usually tangential to a broader analysis of political ambition (Fowler and McClure, 1989; Ehrenhalt, 1992; Herrnson, 1998), or the demographic composition of Congress (Swain, 1997). What little has been written suggests that certain occupations better prepare people for success in running for Congress. Three qualities stand out as necessary for a successful congressional campaign: personal skills, availability of time and money, and the contacts needed to initiate and mount a campaign. In discussing who makes the leap to Congress successfully, Herrnson observes that the legal profession is especially suited to this preparation: “The analytical, verbal, and organizational skills required to succeed in the legal profession help these individuals undertake a successful bid for Congress” (1998, p. 48). While the legal profession may provide the best all-around preparation for a congressional run, business careers provide certain of these advantages, as well. Herrnson points out that people in business are more likely to possess the "money, skills and contacts that are useful in politics" (1998, p. 49). Ehrenhalt builds on the theory explaining the success of businesspeople in politics by asserting that "the skills that work in American politics at this point


in history are those of entrepreneurship" (1992:17). Given the weakness of local party structures in recruiting and supporting candidates (Jacobson, 1992), congressional candidacies require an abnormal measure of individual initiative and willingness to accept risk, traits that may be found more commonly among individuals in business than among those in other career fields. Outside the business and law categories, other occupations lend themselves to congressional preparation, although in more limited ways. Education, public service and politics stand out among the nontraditional career fields represented in Congress. Individuals with public service or political backgrounds seem more likely to possess detailed knowledge of public policy and the policy process. Educators, on the other hand, "frequently have the verbal, analytical and organizational skills” (Herrnson, 1998, p. 49) that are needed to develop policy proposals and shepherd them through the lawmaking process. Ehrenhalt agrees that teachers "can translate the skills of their private careers into a job in public life" (1992, p. 20). While this discussion draws mainly from the literature on congressional recruitment, it offers some basis for theorizing about the importance of career preparation on congressional service, particularly the lawmaking function. We might reasonably expect that members who are better equipped by background to succeed in a congressional campaign might also be better equipped to take up the lawmaking function more quickly once they get to the House. State and Regional Environments, Previous Political Experience Previous occupation is but one aspect of members’ backgrounds that may prepare them for House service. The political culture of the home state may also influence the speed at which freshmen acclimate themselves to the lawmaking environment of the House. Scholarship on state political cultures often defines them in terms of state legislative capability or professionalism. Commonly used measures of state legislative capacity include “higher salaries,


more frequent and longer sessions, larger and more specialized staff, wider use of committees, more significant influence over state taxing and spending, and a wider issue agenda” (Berkman, 1993, p. 78). Put another way, more professionalized state legislatures resemble the U.S. Congress more than less professionalized state legislatures. Among the various states, definite patterns in state government capability have emerged. Bowman and Kearney (1988) identify distinct regional relationships that link state political cultures. Interestingly, it is not geographic region per se (although there is some of this) that forms the patterns Bowman and Kearney find, but the underlying social and economic conditions common to states in a given region. For example, Southern states tend to rank lower in state government capability. This does not result directly from their location, but from the fact that Southern states share common characteristics: “traditional political cultures, high poverty levels, and low rates of innovation” (Bowman and Kearney, 1988, p. 356). Christopher Mooney builds on the work of Bowman and Kearney in his analysis of state legislative professionalism (1995). Noting the patterns among neighboring states Bowman and Kearney find, Mooney offers evidence that state political culture (measured as legislative professionalism), is influenced in part by the levels of professionalism in peer group states. That is, to the extent that there are regional patterns in state government capability, they can be explained by the fact that state governments look to, and imitate, the capabilities of their neighbors. The patterns in state government professionalism prove relevant for understanding freshman participation in the U.S. House of Representatives. We might reasonably expect that House members from states with more professionalized governments would acclimate themselves to the ways of the House more quickly than members from states with less


professionalized state governments. We find anecdotal support for this supposition in Michael Berkman’s research on House career development by members who have served in state legislatures (1993). Berkman concludes that House members who have served in more professionalized state legislatures find the experience “eases [their] adaptation to the House, helps them identify their policy niches, generates policy ideas for them, and accelerates their progress up the career ladder” (1993, p. 77). Berkman’s study draws its conclusions from survey research, which ultimately depends on the perceptions of the members he interviewed. We build on Berkman’s work by developing the quantitative analysis of actual (rather than perceived) legislative activity by House freshmen and subjecting it to statistical controls that were not part of Berkman’s survey. Previous political experience also seems likely to influence freshmen’s ability to engage in lawmaking functions. Having held prior elective office may not improve members’ “knowledge of the legislative background,” but it should better acquaint them with the “substantive issues and political possibilities associated with action on a particular issue” (Hall, 1996, p. 102). Members’ experiences in seeking office may also influence their legislative behavior in the first House term. We might expect, for example, that members who took several tries to win their House seats may be less patient in serving an apprenticeship, and want to get into active lawmaking earlier in their careers. Freshmen who win by larger margins of victory, likewise, may feel more secure, more ready to make an early transition to what Fenno (1978) calls the “Washington career” than freshmen who won by smaller margins. Institutional Position


Hall’s comprehensive study of participation in Congress makes a strong statement about the importance of members’ positions within the institution in determining their level of participation (1996; see also Duffin, 2003). Membership in the minority party, for example, regularly exerted a positive influence on the extent of members’ participation in subcommitteeand committee-level markups. Minority party status positively influenced participation in floor debate in some, but not all, of the cases Hall examined. Because party affiliation influenced participation in these venues, we have reason to suppose it influences freshmen participation in a systematic way, as well. Another feature of institutional position that may influence freshman participation is the type of committee a given member serves on. Deering and Smith (1997) have categorized congressional committees into four types, based on each of the “Fenno Goals” (reelection, making good policy, prestige; see Fenno, 1973) assignment to the committee may serve: Prestige, Policy, Constituency, and Unrequested. Prestige committees include Rules, Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Budget. Prestige committees are thus distinguished because, unlike other committees, policies under their jurisdictions exert an impact on each member of the House. Policy committees, including Commerce, Judiciary, Education and the Workforce, Energy and Commerce, Foreign Affairs and Government Operations are defined “by the predominance of members attracted to them by issue-based motivations” (Deering and Smith, p. 72). Policy committees attract members who are interested in affecting specific policy areas including those whose effect reaches beyond the bounds of their individual district and constituency interests. Constituency committees, such as Agriculture, Interior, Merchant Marine and Fisheries, and Small Business are those that directly affect the concerns of members’ constituents. Deering and


Smith describe constituency committees as “the classic pork-barrel committees of the House” (1997, p. 75). The Unrequested committees (so-called by Deering and Smith because they based their categories in part on why and to what extent members sought assignment to the committees) include Standards of Official Conduct, Select Intelligence, House Administration, and, before it was eliminated in the reforms pursued by the 104th Congress, the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service. Service on these committees seldom permits much satisfaction of members’ goals.1 Moreover, the nature of the issues addressed by these committees saddles their members with a different type of burden. Members feel a certain amount of discomfort when serving on a committee that stands in judgment of their colleagues’ behavior. Service on different types of committees may present freshmen members with different opportunity structures for participating in lawmaking, particularly introducing bills. Prestige committees, for example, may enable members to devote more effort to lawmaking because membership on them is exclusive: those members have no other committee assignments to divide their attention. Membership on Policy or Constituency committees may reflect additional incentives for freshmen to introduce legislation that satisfies either a policy or reelection goal. Service on Unrequested committees, if it influences lawmaking participation at all, might be expected to exert a negative impact. Agenda Control: The Special Case of the 104th Congress Finally, the extent to which freshmen involve themselves in lawmaking may be influenced by their moment in history. The freshman class of the 104th Congress -- because of its size, its partisan composition (73 of them were Republican) and its intense loyalty to the party


Post Office and Civil Service perhaps proving the exception – the reformers in the 104th have unwittingly simplified Deering and Smith’s classification scheme.


leadership -- certainly deserves to be singled out for additional study. The 104th’s freshman class was characterized by two features which may have encouraged its members to skip the usual apprenticeship experience: one was the class’ bald audacity; the other, the fact that most of the members had taken a term limits pledge. Regarding the class’ audacity, about half of the members were younger than 40, were political amateurs, and had defeated incumbents (Killian, 1998). Many saw themselves as revolutionaries on a mission to balance the federal budget and reduce the influence of the federal government. Their zealotry might be expected to result in a flurry of lawmaking activity that freshman term. So, too, might the fact that so many of them had campaigned on a pledge to limit themselves to serving some set number of terms. We have to wonder why members might invest (waste?) much effort in cultivating reelection constituencies if they did not plan to serve for very long. They might see their time better spent trying to produce policy. Then again, other forces at work in the 104th Congress may have inhibited the opportunities for the freshmen to begin their careers as active participants in lawmaking. The tight agenda control, particularly driven by the “Contract With America” in the spring and the budget showdown with President Clinton through the fall and winter of 1995, could possibly have demanded so much of the freshman class’ attention that little time remained for members to pursue legislative agendas of their own. Some additional constraint may have been exerted by the centripetal rearrangement of institutional power in the 104th Congress (Wilcox, 1995). Reducing the numbers of committees and subcommittees also reduced the numbers of members with institutional standing and resources to prosecute legislative agendas of their own. Strengthening the Speaker’s role in selecting committee chairs would serve to make – or send the message to the effect that – the Speaker’s legislative agenda was paramount to all others. Under


those kinds of institutional arrangements, it doesn’t make much sense for any members, much less freshmen, to pursue aggressively their own pet projects. Testing the Aforementioned Hypotheses The previous discussion teases out various influences on lawmaking participation by freshmen in the U.S. House of Representatives. To test these hypotheses, we constructed econometric models to explain the number of bills introduced by freshmen and the proportion of freshmen’s bills that were referred to committees on which those members did not serve (entrepreneurial bills). The first dependent variable, number of bills, is a crude gauge of lawmaking participation. Introducing a bill, what Oleszek describes as a “deceptively simple procedure” (2001, p. 75), actually reflects a significant commitment of resources on the part of a member, resources that freshmen hold in short supply, according to Hall’s (1996) rational choice perspective on apprenticeship. What variables explain more or less of this activity is worth knowing. The second dependent variable, entrepreneurial bills, is a more subtle measure of members’ effort, arguably requiring more in the way of knowledge, interpersonal relationships and chutzpah than introducing legislation under the jurisdiction of a committee on which a member serves (Carter and Scott, forthcoming). Entrepreneurial bill sponsorship can also be symptomatic of rookie mistakes. Hibbing (1991) argues that as members’ careers develop, their lawmaking efforts become more specialized on their own committees’ work, thus more efficient. To build our data set, we chose to analyze freshman participation during the 102nd through 105th Congresses. Examining the 102nd through the 105th Congresses served important theoretic as well as practical purposes. In theoretic terms, these Congresses allow us to examine the House as it passed through an historic period of transition, from Democratic to Republican


control, and to test for any changes in freshman behavior this transition may have fostered. For practical purposes, this selection of Congresses eased the collection of data. Information regarding the participation of the freshman classes for these four Congresses was readily available using the online version of the Congressional Record. Data on members’ personal backgrounds was available in a consistent format through appropriate editions of the National Journal’s Almanac of American Politics. Of course, this choice of Congresses also offers its limitations. First, limiting the analysis to the period from 1991-1997 means that our conclusions are time bound. They may not be applicable to any other period of congressional or political history. Second, the time frame limits our ability to track any changes in member behavior over time and to make meaningful comparisons with other eras.

Results and Analysis This study began with the stipulation that junior members participate less frequently in lawmaking than their more senior colleagues, and sought to understand what drives the freshman participation we do observe. To motivate more fully the fundamental question, we apply this stipulation to the specific Congresses we examine, and one of the dependent variables of interest. The data in Table 1 demonstrate that freshmen during these 1990s Congresses consistently introduced fewer bills than their more senior colleagues. The difference between freshmen is meaningfully large, making them worthy of closer scrutiny. Moreover, the data in Table 1 indicate a change in the numbers of bills introduced by all members after the Republicans became the majority party in the 104th Congress, further justifying our theoretic interest in the freshman class of the 104th.


Turning to the regression analysis of bill sponsorship, we find that only a few of our hypotheses are supported by the freshmen in these Congresses. Previous career apparently exerts no influence on freshmen members’ readiness to introduce legislation. None of the occupations we predicted to prepare a member for lawmaking proved statistically significant in the model. While it might matter in determining who is equipped to mount a successful congressional campaign, previous career appears to make no difference in how freshmen function as lawmakers once elected. Of the “institutional position” variables we tested, membership in the House majority party and appointment to a Prestige committee are the only two we can verify as significant. Throughout the period under study, freshman members of the majority party introduce more bills than freshman members of the minority party. We suggest this results from a different opportunity structure faced by freshmen from each party: bills introduced by freshmen from the majority party seem more likely (if only slightly) to receive consideration from committee chairs. Put another way, when committee chairs formulate their legislative agendas, the least likely measures to receive consideration would be those introduced by those at the bottom of the committee totem pole: freshmen from the minority party. Knowledge of their inferior institutional position induces minority-party freshmen to direct their resources elsewhere. An alternative explanation for the influence of majority party status holds that these freshmen introduce more bills that advance the party caucus’ legislative agenda, giving them a better shot at receiving further consideration. Minority party members, whose caucus does not control the House agenda, see little point in introducing more legislation they know isn’t going anywhere. A more detailed analysis of the topics of the bills introduced (in a subsequent revision of the


study) would help us provide a fuller explanation of the influence of majority party status on bill sponsorship. Of the different committee types, only membership on Prestige committees significantly influences the number of bills freshmen introduce. Admittedly, a small proportion of freshmen are assigned to Prestige committees. Of the 328 freshmen in the data set, only 39 (11.9%) were assigned to Prestige committees. Nevertheless, the institutional structure of the Prestige committees -- members of these committees are almost always limited to one committee assignment -- would predict that these members would have more time available to focus on committee business than members with multiple assignments. Among our measures of prior political experience, holding prior elective office exerted no apparent influence on the number of bills freshmen introduced. Of all of the political experience variables, we believed this would be most relevant in predicting bill introduction by freshmen. Apparently, though, this is not the case. Political amateurs are just as active in introducing legislation as are those who have previously held elective office. Another political experience measure that apparently does not influence the number of measures freshmen introduce is the margin of victory in the House election. If we may take the margin of victory as an indicator of electoral safety, freshmen who are safer are no more active in introducing bills than are members who were elected by close margins. The number of attempts to win a House seat is a significant predictor of the number of bills members introduce in their freshmen terms. This suggests to us that members who have fought longer to earn a place in the House are more anxious to begin the Washington phase of their careers, while members who win House seats on their first attempts are more apt to hang back a bit, presumably to learn how the institution works and focus on reelection.


With further respect to political experience variables, we find that freshmen from states with more professionalized state legislatures are more active in introducing measures than members from less professionalized state legislatures. We should stress that this variable does not measure members who served in state legislatures (that will come in the next revision of the paper); it is offered as an indicator of the political culture of the members’ home states, and we find that merely being exposed to the operations of those legislatures makes the procedures seem less foreign. Whether the members served in their home state legislatures or not, they are influenced by the general levels of political and/or governmental activity in their states, bringing those activity levels with them to the House. Finally, we find that the drop off in bills introduced in the 104th Congress observed in Table 1 proves statistically significant. Merely serving in the 104th Congress reduced the number of bills freshmen introduced. What we are unable to discern at this level of analysis, though, is whether that reduction resulted from tighter agenda control by the House leadership, or the altered opportunity structure previously discussed. Turning momentarily to our second dependent variable of interest, entrepreneurial bill sponsorship, the results reported in Table 3 indicate that our model does not predict this activity particularly well. One variable that reliably influences the proportion of freshmen bills that get referred to committees the sponsors don’t serve is party affiliation. Members in the majority party introduce larger percentages of their bills to their own committees, making them less entrepreneurial, but, in Hibbing’s terms (1991), more efficient. Members of the minority party prove the more entrepreneurial freshmen, perhaps out of a sense that they have nothing to lose by trying. Another possible explanation is that freshmen in the minority party, knowing their bills have little chance of receiving serious consideration, introduce bills of a more symbolic nature –


commemoratives, private bills, etc. – that would be referred to other committees in due course. Further scrutiny of the bills introduced would certainly support or refute the latter notion. The other variable that proves a significant predictor of entrepreneurial bill activity – in a negative direction – is service on Unrequested committees. This result is a bit surprising, since we would expect that members serving committees they don’t especially want to serve would be more entrepreneurial in their bill sponsorship, not less. Nevertheless, the data indicate that freshmen assigned to Unrequested committees are more specialized and efficient in their bill sponsorship than members serving any other committee type. Table 4 offers a more nuanced view of the changes in freshmen productivity brought by the 104th Congress. For this table, we divided the data into Democratic- and Republican-controlled congresses. The regression results allow for a few interesting observations about the differences in the ways freshmen behaved just before and after the change in party control. Looking first at the influence of occupational background on bill sponsorship, we see that in only one instance was it a significant predictor of bill sponsorship in the freshman term. Members from business backgrounds introduced fewer bills in their freshman terms during the 102nd and 103rd Congresses. Of the occupations we included in the model, this one affords members the least amount of preparation in public policy or the policy process, so the result makes some intuitive sense. However, its absence in other formulations of the data set lead us to downplay its significance here. Turning to the influence of the “institutional position” variables, we find that party affiliation was irrelevant in the Democratic-controlled congresses, but in the Republican-controlled congresses, being a member of the majority party exerted a positive influence on the number of bills freshmen introduced. We suspect this is symptomatic of the increased party unity the


Republicans found in the 1990s. Looking at this result from the Democratic viewpoint, it is evident that our earlier conclusions about the moderating effect of minority-party status on bill sponsorship were true of freshmen under Republican-controlled congresses, but not under the Democratic-controlled congresses. The Democrats knew they were out in the woods, and moderated their bill sponsorship accordingly. The other “institutional position” variables that appear to matter in one set of congresses but not the other are the type of committees members serve. Recall that in Table 2, we reported that members who serve on Prestige committees introduced more bills than members on other committees. This holds true only for members in the Democratic-controlled congresses, as does the positive effect of serving in Unrequested committees. Regarding the political experience variables, here, too we find some differences between the split analysis of the data and the combined data. Holding prior elective office, which was not a significant predictor in the combined data, turns out to be a significant predictor for freshmen only in Republican-controlled congresses. Given that these freshmen were mostly Republicans, the result indicates that the political amateurs -- the celebrated “citizen legislators” -- of the 104th and 105th Congresses were decidedly less active in their bill sponsorship than their colleagues who had previously held elective office. We find another difference between the congresses regarding the influence of attempted runs for the House on bill sponsorships. In the 102nd and 103rd Congresses, we find no relationship between the number of tries for a House seat and subsequent bill sponsorship in the freshman term. The effect does become apparent in the Republican-controlled congresses. If this phenomenon is a function of frustration or pent-up demand, then it makes sense that it appears during the congresses when Republicans make long-denied electoral gains.


The effect of local political cultures, measured by state legislative professionalism, turns out to be a significant predictor of bill sponsorship only in the Democratic-controlled congresses. Freshmen of that era were influenced by their local political cultures in ways that freshmen in the subsequent congresses were not. We ran the same comparison between Democratic- and Republican-controlled congresses for the variable measuring entrepreneurial bill sponsorship. The results, reported in Table 5, offer a few new insights into this behavior. First, we find that occupational background exerts no influence on entrepreneurial bill sponsorship. Given the overall results of this study with respect to career preparation for congressional service, this comes as no surprise. Of the “institutional position” variables, membership in the majority party exerts a negative influence on entrepreneurial bill sponsorship during the 104th and 105th congresses, suggesting that Republican freshmen in Republican-controlled congresses focus their legislative efforts in a more specialized, efficient way than was true of members in the previous congresses. The result we saw in Table 3 regarding the negative influence of serving on Unrequested committees on entrepreneurial bill sponsorship appears to have been a phenomenon of the Democratic-controlled congresses. The influence of state legislative professionalism or entrepreneurial bill sponsorship is significant in the Democratic-, but not Republican-controlled congresses. Recall that this variable was significant in the Democratic congress models reported in Table 4, indicating that state political culture exerted influence on bill sponsorship in the House when Democrats were the majority party, but not when the Republicans took over.


When we look at the pattern of differences between the Democratic- and Republicancontrolled congresses, we see the beginnings of a narrative reflecting the institutional changes in the House after the Republican takeover. During Democratic congresses, with stronger committees, the best predictors of bill sponsorship for freshmen were committee assignment and coming from state with more professionalized legislatures (i.e., better acquaintance with the House’s modus operandi). This was a time that rewarded what members knew when they came to the House and their committee positions within it. After the Republicans became the majority party and strengthened the influence of the party caucus and its leadership at the expense of the committee system, what members knew and where they were assigned to use that knowledge became less important than being a member of the majority party. Pent-up demand for Republicans’ individual legislative agendas found its release. The evidence suggests those individual agendas were fueled in part by frustration among members who had previous electoral experience and had fought harder to get to the House. In sum, the game had changed, creating new opportunities for freshmen that would not have existed had they been elected to a Democratic-controlled chamber.

Conclusions As a first cut at trying to discern differences among freshmen in their legislative participation, this study offers some interesting conclusions and promises for additional research. We begin our conclusion by pointing out that we’ve learned something important about the role of occupational background in preparing individuals for becoming legislators: it doesn’t much matter. To the extent that career preparation is influential in understanding congressional service writ large, it seems to hold more sway in determining who runs for Congress, and perhaps for


who gets elected. Once members are elected, the influence of professional training washes away and everyone starts a career on more or less equal footing. Political experience, unlike occupation, sometimes can help predict which members will be more active legislators as freshmen. We find that holding prior elective office, making multiple attempts to win a House seat and representing states with more governmental capacity all have the power to influence freshmen’s legislative participation under varying circumstances. Finally, we find that institutional position matters. Members’ committee assignments and status in the majority or minority party both create opportunity structures that foster or inhibit sponsoring legislation. We can confirm what we have learned here by applying the model to additional dependent variables. An expansion of this study should extend it to include other indicators of legislative effectiveness. Examples include the proportions of members’ bills introduced that receive hearings, that are reported by the committee of jurisdiction, that receive floor consideration and that are passed by the House. If the same variables predict success across the legislative process, then we will have learned something substantial about what best prepares new members of the House for legislative success.


Table 1. Mean Numbers of Bills Introduced per Congress

Congress 102nd 103rd 104th 105th

Mean Number of Bills for All Members 17.9 15.3 10.4 11.5

Mean Number of Bills for Freshmen 8.35 8.32 7.21 7.54

Source: For all members, data were obtained from Ornstein, Mann and Malbin (2002, p. 146). For freshmen, data were collected by authors.


Table 2. Ordinary Least Squares Estimates: Bill Sponsorship by Freshmen House Members, 102nd – 105th Congresses Dependent Variable: Number of Bills Introduced Regression Coefficient Member Belongs to the Majority Party 2.08 Member Held Prior Elective Office .503 Margin of Victory in Election -.001 Previous Career in Business -1.179 Previous Career in Law -1.250 Previous Career in Education -1.367 Previous Career in Public Service -.107 Previous Career in Politics -.553 Member Serves on “Prestige” Committee 2.918 Member Serves on “Policy” Committee .530 Member Serves on “Constituency” Committee .803 Member Serves on “Unrequested” Committee 1.606 Number of House Campaigns Before Winning 2.402 Member Represents State with More Professionalized State .556 Legislature Member was a Freshman in the 104th Congress -2.163 Constant 2.221 R2 = .091 F = 2.008** N = 315 * p < .10 ** p < .05 *** p < .01

Explanatory Variables

Se B .688 .638 .018 .969 .961 1.353 1.154 1.467 1.155 .688 .937 1.626 1.082 .340 .807 2.019

T score 3.023*** .789 -.772 -1.183 -1.300 -1.010 -.092 -.374 2.526** .769 .856 .988 2.219** 1.635* -2.679*** 1.100


Table 3. Ordinary Least Squares Estimates: Entrepreneurial Bill Sponsorship by Freshmen House Members, 102nd – 105th Congresses Dependent Variable: Proportion of Member’s Bills Referred to Other Committees Regression Se B T score Explanatory Variables Coefficient Member Belongs to the Majority Party -5.864 3.035 -1.932** Member Held Prior Elective Office -1.764 2.813 -.627 Margin of Victory in Election -.009 .079 -1.204 Previous Career in Business 4.408 4.394 1.003 Previous Career in Law -3.888 4.240 -.917 Previous Career in Education 3.165 5.967 .530 Previous Career in Public Service 1.910 5.089 .375 Previous Career in Politics -6.308 6.510 -.969 Member Serves on “Prestige” Committee 2.078 5.096 .408 Member Serves on “Policy” Committee -2.295 3.036 -.756 Member Serves on “Constituency” Committee .410 4.133 .034 Member Serves on “Unrequested” Committee -20.544 7.172 -2.864*** Number of House Campaigns Before Winning -4.119 4.774 -.863 Member Represents State with More Professionalized State 2.129 1.500 1.42 Legislature Member was a Freshman in the 104th Congress -2.561 3.561 -.719 Constant 83.558 8.904 9.385*** R2 = .091 F = 1.990** N = 315 * p < .10 ** p < .05 *** p < .01


Table 4. Comparison of OLS Estimates: Bill Sponsorship by Freshmen During Democratic- and Republican-Controlled Congresses Dependent Variable: Number of Bills Introduced Democratic Control (102nd and Republican Control (104th and 103rd Congresses) 105th Congresses) Explanatory Variables Member Belongs to the Majority Party Member Held Prior Elective Office Margin of Victory in Election Previous Career in Business Previous Career in Law Previous Career in Education Previous Career in Public Service Previous Career in Politics Member Serves on “Prestige” Committee Member Serves on “Policy” Committee Member Serves on “Constituency” Committee Member Serves on “Unrequested” Committee Number of House Campaigns Before Winning Member Represents State with More Professionalized State Legislature Constant B 1.445 .07 -.02 -3.078 -2.045 -1.398 -.955 -1.707 7.444 1.021 2.639 3.497 .676 1.194 se B .999 1.114 .025 1.757 1.547 2.242 1.837 2.426 2.122 1.022 1.711 2.063 1.672 .521 T 1.446 .063 -.826 -1.751* -1.242 -.624 -.520 -.704 3.507*** 1.000 1.542 1.696* .405 2.293** .491 B 2.398 1.596 .006 -.273 -.885 -.329 .222 .920 .230 .008 -.119 .634 3.190 -.09 1.648 se B .941 .773 .029 1.207 1.228 1.695 1.655 1.841 1.389 .960 1.101 3.189 1.426 .459 2.555 R² = .12 F = 1.342 N = 159 T 2.549*** 2.065** .239 -.226 -.721 -.194 .134 .500 .166 .008 -.108 .199 2.238** -.202 .645

1.686 3.345 R² = .13 F = 1.559* N = 155


Table 5 Comparison of OLS Estimates: Entrepreneurial Bill Sponsorship by Freshmen During Democratic- and Republican-Controlled Congresses Dependent Variable: Proportion of Member’s Bills Referred to Other Committees Democratic Control (102nd and Republican Control (104th 103rd Congresses) and 105th Congresses) Explanatory Variables Member Belongs to the Majority Party Member Held Prior Elective Office Margin of Victory in Election Previous Career in Business Previous Career in Law Previous Career in Education Previous Career in Public Service Previous Career in Politics Member Serves on “Prestige” Committee Member Serves on “Policy” Committee Member Serves on “Constituency” Committee Member Serves on “Unrequested” Committee Number of House Campaigns Before Winning Member Represents State with More Professionalized State Legislature Constant B -2.772 -6.691 -.055 -2.315 -6.661 -2.420 -7.914 -12.654 -1.653 -6.366 -8.628 -22.679 -8.572 4.344 se B 4.046 4.511 .099 7.116 6.669 -.026 7.440 9.824 8.594 4.137 6.927 8.352 6.769 2.108 T -.685 -1.483 -.557 -.325 -.999 -.267 -1.064 -1.288 -.192 -1.539 -1.246 -2.715*** -1.266 2.061** 7.166*** B -9.997 1.575 -.216 8.849 -5.527 8.134 12.22 0 -3.464 3.661 2.675 2.851 -13.50 -2.482 -.573 se B 4.478 3.679 .137 5.745 5.847 8.069 7.879 8.762 6.612 4.568 5.243 15.178 6.785 2.187 T -2.232** .428 -1.574 1.540 -.945 1.008 1.551 -.395 .554 .586 .544 -.890 -.366 -.262 6.668***

99.691 13.911 R² = .17 F = 2.131** N = 155

81.09 12.16 R² = .11 F = 1.246 N = 159


APPENDIX Coding of the less-than-obvious variables used in the models Participation. We used the online version of the Congressional Record to collect the number of bills each member in the study introduced. Only bills for which the member was the principal sponsor were coded. Co-sponsored bills were not included in this total. To gauge the degree of entrepreneurial bill introduction, we coded each bill a member introduced according to the committee or committees to which it was referred. If the member did not serve on one of the committees receiving the referral, it was scored as an entrepreneurial bill. The final measure used in the model is the proportion of a member’s bills coded as entrepreneurial. Occupation. Of particular interest to this study were the data on members' occupations, which we coded into fourteen discrete categories: 1) business, 2) law, 3) education, 4) public service, 5) health care, 6) law enforcement, 7) clergy, 8) journalism, 9) politics, 10) entertainment, 11) agriculture, 12) military, 13) labor and 14) other professional. We included bankers, investors, insurance agents, funeral home directors, chief executive officers, presidents of corporations, and newspaper publishers in the business category. Only those who practiced law outside of the public arena (that is, those who were not prosecutors, public defenders, or lawyers on any government payroll) were coded into the law category. The education category included those members in K-12 and post secondary education and research. Members were included in the public service category if they held public administration positions, public legal positions (prosecutors and public defenders), political staff positions or worked in government agencies (such as social workers). We also coded career elected office holders in the public service category. Veterinarians were included in the health professions category along with the more traditional health care occupations. Those given the politics designation were social activists,


career party officials, and lobbyists. Actors, athletes and celebrities were included in the entertainment category. The agriculture category included both family and corporate farming and ranching. Those given the labor designation were either labor union organizers or blue collar workers not listed in other categories. Those included in the other professional category were white collar workers not listed in previous categories, such as engineers. All other variables coded in the study seem self-explanatory. For most of the members in the data set, coding them according to occupation was a fairly straightforward task. For others, their occupational backgrounds contained enough career changes to make coding less obvious. In order to make a determination in these more difficult cases, we devised a set of decision rules that proceeded in a step-by-step fashion. First, we compared the number of years a member held each occupation prior to holding elected office.2 If this comparison proved inconclusive (because the number of years were equal or very close to equal), we went to the second step, which called for coding the occupation most emphasized in the member’s biography and which most likely contributed to the member’s electoral success according to the theory outlined in this study. If the member’s biography did not emphasize any one occupation leading to electoral success, then the third decision rule called for coding the member’s occupation held immediately prior to seeking elective office. The example of John Linder, (R-GA), illustrates this process. Linder spent 13 years in the dental profession and 15 years in business. Because the years were so close in number, we looked next to which career was emphasized more strongly in Linder’s biography. Since the literature did not emphasize either occupation, we coded Linder as a business professional because he held that position immediately prior to and during elected office.


The number of years in elected office was generally not included in Step 1 unless a member was elected with no occupational history. Career office holders were included in the public administration category.


In the models, we coded each occupation as a dummy variable, with 1 indicating that the member held that previous occupation. Committee Assignment. We used Deering and Smith’s (1997) descriptions of committee assignments. They categorized House committees into Prestige, Policy, Constituency and Unrequested. Prestige committees include Rules, Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Budget. Policy committees included Commerce, Judiciary, Education and the Workforce, Energy and Commerce, Foreign Affairs and Government Operations. Constituency committees included Agriculture, Interior, Merchant Marine and Fisheries, and Small Business. The Unrequested committees include Standards of Official Conduct, Select Intelligence, House Administration and Post Office and Civil Service. In the models, we coded each committee type as a dummy variable, with 1 indicating that the member served on one of those committees at that time. Professionalized State Legislature. To gauge the degree of professionalism in a member’s home state legislature, we adopted the scale developed by Berkman (1993), which categorized states as having “least professionalized” legislatures (coded as 1 in our model), “less professionalized” legislatures (coded as 2 in our model), “more professionalized” legislatures (coded as 3 in our model) and “most professionalized” legislatures (coded as 4 in our model).


REFERENCES Asher, H.B. 1973. The Learning of Legislative Norms. American Political Science Review (67:499-513). Berkman, M.B. 1993. Former State Legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives: Institutional and Policy Mastery. Legislative Studies Quarterly. (18:77-104). Bowman, A.O. and R.C. Kearney. 1988. Dimensions of State Government Capability. Western Political Quarterly (41:341-362). Carter, R.G. and J.M. Scott. Forthcoming. Taking the Lead: Congressional Foreign Policy Entrepreneurs and U.S. Foreign Policy. Politics & Policy. Deering, C.J. and S.S. Smith. 1997. Committees in Congress. 3rd ed. (Washington, DC: CQ Press). Duffin, D.L. 2003. Explaining Participation in Congressional Oversight Hearings. American Politics Research. (31:455-484). Ehrenhalt, A. 1992. The United States of Ambition: Politicians, Power, and the Pursuit of Office. (New York: Times Books). Fenno, R.F. 1966. The Power of the Purse. (Boston: Little, Brown). Fenno, R.F. 1973. Congressmen in Committees. (Boston: Little, Brown). Fenno, R.F. 1978. Home Style: House Members in Their Districts. (New York: HarperCollins). Fowler, L.L. and R.D. McClure. 1989. Political Ambition: Who Decides to Run for Congress. (New Haven: Yale). Hall, R.L. 1996. Participation in Congress. (New Haven: Yale). Hibbing, J.R. 1991. Contours of the Modern Congressional Career. American Political Science Review (85:405-428). Herrnson, P.A. 1998. Congressional Elections: Campaigning at Home and in Washington. 2nd ed. (Washington, DC: CQ Press). Jacobson, G.C. 1992. The Politics of Congressional Elections. 3rd ed. (New York: HarperCollins). Killian, L. 1998. The Freshmen: What Happened to the Republican Revolution? (Boulder, CO: Westview).


Manley, J. 1970. The Politics of Finance. (Boston: Little, Brown) Matthews, D.R. 1954. The Social Background of Political Decision-Makers. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday). Matthews, D.R. 1960. U.S. Senators and Their World. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press). Mooney, C.Z. 1995. Citizens, Structures and Sister States: Influences on State Legislative Professionalism. Legislative Studies Quarterly. (20:47-67). Oleszek, W.J. 2001. Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process. 5th ed. (Washington, DC: CQ Press). Smith, S.S. 1989. Call to Order: Floor Politics in the House and Senate. (Washington, DC: Brookings). Swain, C.M. 1997. Women and Blacks in Congress: 1870-1996. in L.C. Dodd and B.I. Oppenheimer, eds., Congress Reconsidered, 6th ed. (Washington, DC: CQ Press). Wilcox, C. 1995. The Latest American Revolution? The 1994 Elections and Their Implications for Governance. (New York: St. Martin’s).


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