A new model and related empirical work explain how the Senate and President affect the timing of power-sharing rule changes in the US House. We argue that shifts in the Senate's or President's preferences (e.g., a new majority party in the Senate; a new president) reshape House members' expectations about which legislative outcomes are achievable. Reshaped expectations, in turn, can alter House members' perceptions of the consequences of reallocating power among themselves. We prove that such reshaped expectations can induce House members to change power-sharing rules. To evaluate this claim, we examine major rule changes from 1879 to 2009. We find that the House was far more likely to change rules after elections that shifted partisan control of the Senate or Presidency than after elections in which no such shift occurred. Since the existing literature does not anticipate this finding, this work clarifies an important attribute of how power is distributed within the House.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management