Monday, February 21, 2011

All Those Votes...

...or as political scientists tend to see it: Data!

The House of Representatives wound up taking over 100 recorded votes on the Full Employment for Opposition Researchers Act continuing resolution last week. All in all, they've now cast a whopping 147 votes so far this year.

Some comparisons...

In 2009, during the first session of the historic 111th Congress, the House took a total of 991 recorded votes all year. Vote #147 was on March 24. In 2010, there were only 664 votes, with #147 coming on March 19.

Here are a few others:

2008: 690 total votes
2007: 1186
2006: 543
2005: 671
2003: 677
2001: 512
1999: 611
1997: 640
1995: 885
1993: 615


1) Second sessions of a Congress (even-numbered years) take fewer votes than first sessions, presumably because they recess much earlier.

2) The two highest vote totals over the last twenty years were in 2007 and 1995, both years in which party control changed. I'll jump in fearlessly and assert that while correlation does not necessarily imply causation, it sure looks as if under modern conditions, change in party control in the House causes lots of recorded votes in the next session.

3) In 2007, they didn't get to #147 until March 14, so this year is beating that pace.

4) I very much liked the way the votes were organized, with occasional blocks of two minutes votes. I'm mostly okay with the fact that they pretty much dispensed with debate...Congressional floor debates are rarely very interesting, and are almost never true back-and-forth conversations, especially in the House. If there are any House staff reading, I'd be very interested in whether Members and staff thought that the process worked well (that is, if you're going to have lots of amendments, was this a good way of handling them). I am certain that a lot of House legislative assistants very much earned their salaries last week.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the strikeout, if only because the vote-fests make oppo research EASIER (thus, less need to hire as many people to do it!)


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