American Government and Politics

Territorial Delegates and Party Balance: House Committee Membership after 1970

Cameron DeHart Stanford University & Bill Lane Center for the American West
Non-voting delegates have represented territories in Congress since 1797, but have only been able to vote in committees in the last half century. The 1970s reforms to expand delegates’ rights and create new seats coincided with other party-driven changes to the committee system, and little is known about the impact delegates had on party ratios in committees. In this paper, I present evidence that the addition of delegates to standing committees in the 1970s, as well as the Committee of the Whole in the 1990s, increased Democrats’ seat share relative to the margin on the floor. In light of this evidence, the disagreements about the scope of delegates’ participation in the House are best understood in the context of increasing polarization and partisanship that increased the stakes of packing committees on the margin.
Summary of changes from Version 1
This draft makes several revisions to the original, including a change in format and new evidence from the Congressional Record and other secondary sources. All comments and feedback are welcome. Thank you for reading.
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