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Title:Pathways to congress: precongressional careers and congressional behavior
Author(s):Francis, Katherine
Director of Research:Sulkin, Tracy E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Sulkin, Tracy E.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bernhard, William T.; Mondak, Jeffery J.; Sin, Gisela
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):legislative politics
legislative behavior
legislative studies
American politics
Abstract:Members of Congress have a variety of career experiences before Congress, non-political and political. In this dissertation, I bring together interdisciplinary strands of research on careers and occupational behavior to compare how MCs from different career backgrounds act in the U.S. House of Representatives. I argue that career experiences can provide relevant skills and insights that members in their first and second terms use to adjust to being Representatives. Through a large-scale analysis of members serving in the 101st-112th Congresses (1989-2012), I find that precongressional career experiences have multiple connections to members’ decisions. Career experiences relate to the contents of members’ legislative agendas, their orientation toward legislative activities and constituent outreach, and their partisan loyalty. Members with legislative and executive backgrounds are more active in the legislative process and more successful in seeing their bills become law. MCs with different career experiences also craft different legislative agendas – the number and types of bills on which they take legislative action. New MCs significantly introduce and cosponsor a greater number of bills on policy topics that relate to their past experience, for instance – medical doctors introducing health bills. There is also an impact on the specialization of MCs’ legislative agendas. Those individuals who have worked in environments emphasizing specialization, such as state legislators and lawyers, focus on a fewer number of policy topics. Finally, MCs with experience in partisan bodies donate more campaign money to their copartisans. My results have implications for policy outcomes and constituent representation, addressing debates about the selection of representations and the attendant consequences such as the breadth and depth of the legislative agenda and the cohesiveness of political parties.
Issue Date:2014-09-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Katherine Francis
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08

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