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Title:Backchannel policymaking: members of Congress pursuing policy goals through the bureaucracy
Author(s):Ritchie, Melinda Nell
Director of Research:Sulkin, Tracy
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Sulkin, Tracy
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Kuklinski, James; Gaines, Brian; Sin, Gisela
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:This dissertation explores how individual members of Congress pursue policy goals by engaging with the bureaucracy. This behavior, which I call “backchannel policymaking”, is a new way of thinking about policymaking and representational behavior, distinct from previously studied channels of the lawmaking process like roll call votes or bill introductions. I develop and test a theory to explain why members of Congress choose to engage with the bureaucracy. I consider whether backchannel policymaking serves as an alternative path for policy influence, which members of Congress use to circumvent the legislative process. My analyses, which focus on senators’ policy contact with the bureaucracy during the 110th and the 111th Congresses and draw on original bureaucratic records from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Homeland Security, reveal that a senator’s institutional position, constraints, and behavior within the legislative process predict her engagement in backchannel policymaking. These findings illustrate how members of Congress try to influence policy outside of the formal lawmaking process.
Issue Date:2015-07-29
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Melinda Ritchie
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-03-08
Date Deposited:2015-12

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