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