"The Senate Electoral Cycle and Bicameral Appropriations"

We consider the consequences of the Senate electoral cycle and bicameralism for distributive politics, introducing the concept of contested credit claiming, i.e. that members of a state's House and Senate delegations must share the credit for appropriations that originate in their chamber with delegation members in the other chamber. Using data that isolates appropriations of each chamber, we test a model of the strategic incentives contested credit claiming creates. Our empirical analysis indicates that the Senate electoral cycle induces a back-loading of benefits to the end of senatorial terms, and, more tentatively, that the House blunts this tendency. We also find that agenda setters within a chamber bias their chamber's distribution of pork barrel projects in their favor, but these biases are partly counteracted by the other chamber. Our analysis informs our understanding of appropriations earmarking, and points a way forward in studying the larger consequences of bicameral legislatures.

Speaker Bio

Kenneth A. Shepsle is the George D. Markham Professor of Government at Harvard University and a founding member of its Center for Basic Research in the Social Sciences (now the Institute for Quantitative Social Science). He formerly taught at Washington University, St. Louis. He is the author or editor of a dozen books -- including The Giant Jigsaw Puzzle (Chicago, 1978), Making and Breaking Governments (Cambridge, 1996), and Analyzing Politics (Norton, 1997) -- and has written numerous articles on formal political theory, congressional and parliamentary politics, and political economy. He was a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and a Guggenheim Fellow. He is a past vice president of the American Political Science Association. In 1990 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was chair of the Department of Government at Harvard, 1995-98. His current research is at the interface of political economy and demography, focusing on formal models and empirical analysis of political institutions and intergenerational politics.

For more information about Professor Ken Shepsle, please click here.