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"What's In It For Me?": Why Members of Congress Pursue Oversight
Unformatted Document Text:  estimates are cardinal numbers indicating the relative value that MCs as a whole placeon service on the various subcommittees. For example, if ˆ v a = 2 and ˆ v b = 0.5, then the estimated percentage of MCs who would prefer a seat on Subcommittee a to a seat onSubcommittee b is Φ (v a x t a +v b x t b ) √ |x t a |+|x t b | = Φ( (2−0.5) √ 2 ) ≈ 86%. Subcommittees for which ˆ v j < 0 are considered to be “burden subcommittees” – the model predicts that MCs would preferno assignment to a seat on one of these bodies. 2.2 Results 2.2.1 MCs’ Disinclination to Serve on Oversight-focused Subcommittees Figures 1 & 2 show subcommittee preference rankings for Democratic and RepublicanMCs, respectively, during the 105-109 th Congresses. Each dot signifies a ˆv point estimate for a subcommittee’s cardinal preference ranking, with the corresponding bars denotingthe 95% confidence interval. Subcommittees with an oversight-focused jurisdiction 16 are shown in black. 17 16 I.e., various authorization committees’ “oversight & investigations” subcommittees – which typically include language in their parent committees’ rule manuals limiting these subcommittees’ jurisdictions “toexisting law” – as well as the subcommittees of the Government Reform & Oversight Committee 17 For the curious (and those willing to ignore confidence intervals), the Defense Appropriations Subcom- mittee of the Appropriations Committee is the most preferred subcommittee assignment for Democrats,and the Environment, Technology & Standards Subcommittee of the Science Committee is the leastpreferred. Among Republicans, the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee of the AppropriationsCommittee is the most favored appointment, while the Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee of theEducation & Labor Committee is the least favored. 7

Authors: Feinstein, Brian.
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background image
estimates are cardinal numbers indicating the relative value that MCs as a whole place
on service on the various subcommittees. For example, if ˆ
v
a
= 2 and ˆ
v
b
= 0.5, then the
estimated percentage of MCs who would prefer a seat on Subcommittee a to a seat on
Subcommittee b is Φ
(v
a
x
t
a
+v
b
x
t
b
)
|x
t
a
|+|x
t
b
|
= Φ(
(2−0.5)
2
) ≈ 86%. Subcommittees for which ˆ
v
j
< 0 are
considered to be “burden subcommittees” – the model predicts that MCs would prefer
no assignment to a seat on one of these bodies.
2.2
Results
2.2.1
MCs’ Disinclination to Serve on Oversight-focused Subcommittees
Figures 1 & 2 show subcommittee preference rankings for Democratic and Republican
MCs, respectively, during the 105-109
th
Congresses. Each dot signifies a ˆv point estimate
for a subcommittee’s cardinal preference ranking, with the corresponding bars denoting
the 95% confidence interval. Subcommittees with an oversight-focused jurisdiction
16
are
shown in black.
17
16
I.e., various authorization committees’ “oversight & investigations” subcommittees – which typically
include language in their parent committees’ rule manuals limiting these subcommittees’ jurisdictions “to
existing law” – as well as the subcommittees of the Government Reform & Oversight Committee
17
For the curious (and those willing to ignore confidence intervals), the Defense Appropriations Subcom-
mittee of the Appropriations Committee is the most preferred subcommittee assignment for Democrats,
and the Environment, Technology & Standards Subcommittee of the Science Committee is the least
preferred. Among Republicans, the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee of the Appropriations
Committee is the most favored appointment, while the Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee of the
Education & Labor Committee is the least favored.
7


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