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"What's In It For Me?": Why Members of Congress Pursue Oversight
Unformatted Document Text:  Figure 7: Distribution of Hearings Held, for Both Oversight-focused and Other HouseUnits, 105-109 th Congresses In fact, nothing in the House rules prevents any committee or subcommittee from holding an oversight hearing. To the contrary, according to Kravitz (1990, p. 383), thelandmark Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (and subsequent revisions) consideredoversight be an “implicit responsibility” of many standing committees with primarilyauthorization or appropriations functions. Today, as Figure 7 shows, many of these bodiesdevote noteworthy amounts of attention to formal oversight. During the 1997-2006 period,committees and subcommittees that did not have an oversight-focused orientation held anaverage of 2.3 oversight hearings per Congress, while the oversight-specific House subunitsheld an average of 5.8. These relatively low, relatively similar means, however, belie anincredible amount of variation both over time and across subunits. Figure 8 illustrates the extent of this variation. The figures shows the number of oversight hearings held by each of the 151 House subunits that were in existence for at 21

Authors: Feinstein, Brian.
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Figure 7: Distribution of Hearings Held, for Both Oversight-focused and Other House
Units, 105-109
th
Congresses
In fact, nothing in the House rules prevents any committee or subcommittee from
holding an oversight hearing. To the contrary, according to Kravitz (1990, p. 383), the
landmark Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (and subsequent revisions) considered
oversight be an “implicit responsibility” of many standing committees with primarily
authorization or appropriations functions. Today, as Figure 7 shows, many of these bodies
devote noteworthy amounts of attention to formal oversight. During the 1997-2006 period,
committees and subcommittees that did not have an oversight-focused orientation held an
average of 2.3 oversight hearings per Congress, while the oversight-specific House subunits
held an average of 5.8. These relatively low, relatively similar means, however, belie an
incredible amount of variation both over time and across subunits.
Figure 8 illustrates the extent of this variation. The figures shows the number of
oversight hearings held by each of the 151 House subunits that were in existence for at
21


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