Brookings Mountain West presents “Overcoming Legislative Gridlock in the U.S. Congress: How Procedural Rules Affect Legislative Obstructionism,” a talk by Molly Jackman, fellow, Governance Studies.
More than 90 percent of bills introduced in the U.S. House never make it to a floor vote, and far fewer are enacted into law. Since legislative gridlock is much more common than legislative action, in order to understand policy outcomes, it is critical to know why bills are obstructed. Gridlock occurs when a legislator (or group of legislators) wants to block a bill, and has the procedural right to do so. Using new data on the procedural rules in the U.S. states, this presentation will identify the chambers in which legislators can block bills from the legislative agenda. Then, Jackman will demonstrate that there is an explicit link between the presence of legislative rules that allow for obstructionism and the policies that the states ultimately enact. In drawing this connection between procedural rules and policy outcomes, Jackman will focus on two policy domains: state spending and gun regulation.