What is regular order worth? Partisan lawmaking and congressional processes

James M. Curry, Frances E. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Scholars and other congressional observers argue that the erosion of so-called regular order legislative processes exacerbates partisan conflict in Congress. In this article, we investigate whether laws passed via more unorthodox and leadership-led legislative processes garner less bipartisan support than those passed under regular order processes. Drawing on an original data set of important laws passed by Congress from 1987 to 2016 (the 100th–114th Congresses), we find little connection between violations of regular order and the amount of partisanship observed on either initial or final passage votes. In-depth interviews with long-time members of Congress and high-level congressional staffers reveal that centralized and unorthodox processes are frequently used not to pass partisan bills but because these methods are efficient in resolving legislative impasses. The flexibility and secrecy permitted by unorthodox processes can assist in negotiating agreements to enact even highly bipartisan legislation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-641
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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