Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Political Science


English (en)

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Steven Smith


This dissertation project aims to build upon the literature of positive theories of legislative politics, and provide three more nuanced stories about various stages in the U.S. House of Representatives: rules making, committee composition, and floor voting. The chapter, Conditional Nature of Rules Changes, examines why the U.S. House of Representatives has changed its standing rules regarding the principle of majority rule and minority rights. I begin by taking a critical look at previous studies on this subject, after which I propose an alternative theory on the conditional nature of rules changes. The empirical findings reveal that different combinations of factors are required for the two distinct types of rules changes. In particular, the size and homogeneity of the majority party are the main factors for promoting majority rule while the size of the majority party and the dimensionality of policy space are the main factors for creating minority rights. The chapter, Minority Party Members on Committees, questions why a generic legislature allows minority party members on committees. If the majority party considers the minority a burden, then it could choose to exclude minority party members entirely from the committee system. This has, however, rarely happened in history. This chapter provides one possible explanation to this puzzle via a simple signaling game. In equilibrium, I show that the majority party has an incentive to include the minority party delegation on the committee. By allowing the minority to make a public speech on the uncertainty, the majority leadership can constrain the majority committee delegation in a way to serve the party in general: the majority committee delegation, in equilibrium, moderates the bill proposal in order to respond to the minority's public speech. The chapter, Special Rules and Dimensionality, is one of the first attempts to investigate the determinants for dimensionality of individual bills. I first develop a theory on partisan manipulation of dimensionality by focusing especially on the role of restrictive special rules in the House of Representatives: party leaders try to reduce the dimensionality of individual bills in order to have clear party image and to avoid ugly defeats. I collect every piece of "major legislation" identified by Clinton and Lapinski: 2006), and record the contents of their special rules. Ultimately, the data demonstrate that restrictive rules contribute to lower dimensionality.


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