The House and the Senate floors are the only legislative forums where all members of the U.S. Congress participate and each has a vote. Andrew J. Taylor explores why floor power and floor rights in the House are more restricted than in the Senate and how these restrictions affect the legislative process. After tracing the historical development of floor rules, Taylor assesses how well they facilitate a democratic legislative process—that is, how well they facilitate deliberation, transparency, and widespread participation.
Taylor not only compares floor proceedings between the Senate and the House in recent decades; he also compares recent congressional proceedings with antebellum proceedings. This unique, systematic analysis reveals that the Senate is generally more democratic than the House—a somewhat surprising result, given that the House is usually considered the more representative and responsive of the two. Taylor concludes with recommendations for practical reforms designed to make floor debates more robust and foster representative democracy.
"Over the last quarter century, political scientists have acquired a more sophisticated understanding of the role of parties and procedures in shaping the decision-making process in the House and Senate. Taylor reviews, critiques, and extends that analysis in a splendid book on the differences between the House and Senate. With historical depth and creative empirical analysis, Taylor provides new insights on many features of congressional policy-making."
—Steven S. Smith, Washington University in St. Louis
"This outstanding book showcases the development and bicameral differences in House and Senate floor practices over time. Taylor does an impressive job of marshaling a broad array of historical and contemporary evidence for how procedural differences across the two chambers directly affect floor proceedings in Congress. He concludes by offering a variety of timely reforms for enhancing debate and deliberation on the floor. This is a must-read book for any serious legislative scholar."
—Jamie Carson, University of Georgia