Legislative Organization with Informational Committees

Legislative Organization with Informational Committees

1999Working Paper No. 1572

Legislative organization in the face of uncertain policy outcomes has been investigated from the perspective of signaling models in which an informed committee reports a bill and the legislature then amends, enacts or rejects the bill. As the political principal, however, the legislature could take the lead rather than react to the work of its agent. This paper presents a new theory of legislative organization with informational committees inwhich the legislature as the principal explicitly structures its arrangement with a committee before the committee begins its legislative work. The theory provides a number of quite different predictions. For example, in the signaling theory a closed rule can create stronger incentives for specialization by a moderate committee than an open rule, whereas in this theory an open rule provides stronger incentives. Moreover, the legislature prefers to structure t he arrangement with the committee withe committee rather than simly react to its efforts