Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Congressional Committee Requests Revisited: Professional Expertise, Multiple Goals and Representation

House members pursue multiple goals during their legislative career. The goals of reelection, good policy making and power affect member voting and committee composition. Yet in arguably a legislator’s most important choice, committee request, only the goal of reelection has empirical support. I argue that a member utilizes all three goals when going through the committee process and requests a committee assignment that will maximize their utility across all legislative goals. Utility maximization is achieved when a member can gain influence within a policy jurisdiction through leveraging their prior expertise. I employ a multinomial logit model in examining committee requests, for eight committees over fifty years. My findings indicate that across five of the eight committees a member’s prior occupation is a strong and consistent predictor of a legislator’s request. It is plausible, given the results that members pursue multiple goals in making their request for committee assignment.