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Ferejohn and Shipan: Congressional influence on administrative agencies

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Ferejohn and Shipan. 1989. Congressional influence on administrative agencies. In Congress Reconsidered, 4th ed, eds Lawrence Dodd and Bruce Oppenheimer. Washington: CQ Press..

LITERATURE

There are a couple of common theories about what motivates people in Congress:

  • Deliberative theory: Congress is a deliberative body. Its members work primarily toward developing and implementing sound policy.
  • Electoral theory: Reps use Congress only to further their own careers. Their careers are served better through attention to constituents than through legislation. When Reps act like they are deliberating, they do so only to win favor with constituents.

THIS ARTICLE: BETWEEN THE DELIBERATIVE AND ELECTORAL VIEW

In relation to the bureaucracy, Congress is somewhere between the deliberative and electoral view. Members of Congress do sometimes want an agency to change its policy. The agency might not fear legislation, knowing that its Congressional committee is probably sympathetic to it. So the Committee members make speeches embracing the Chamber's view as a signal to the agency that it had better change, or else risk facing new legislation.

X: Signalling by members of Congress (hiding their real preferences). Agencies try to avoid punishment by doing what Congress wants, so they pay attention to these signals. Y: Induce an agency to change a policy without actually passing new legislation.

See the diagrams on 398 and 399 (pg 4/11 in PDF).