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public policy, policy making, American politics, House of Representatives


The public policy benefits that parties-deliver are allocated by democratic procedures that devolve ultimately to majority rule. Majority-rule decision making, however, does not lead to consistent policy choices; it is "unstable." In this paper, we argue that institutions - and thereby policy coalitions -- can be stabilized by extra-legislative organization. The rules of the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives dictate that a requirement for continued membership is support on the floor of Caucus decisions for a variety of key structural matters. Because membership in the majority party’s caucus is valuable, it constitutes a bond, the posting of which stabilizes the structure of the House, and hence the policy decisions made in the House. We examine the rules of the House Democratic Caucus and find that they do in fact contain the essential elements of an effective, extralegislative bonding mechanism.


This is an article pre-print.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Federal government--United States, House of Representatives, Congress, Public policy (Law), Policy sciences