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Unanimous consent agreements: Going along in the Senate

Krehbiel, Keith (1986) Unanimous consent agreements: Going along in the Senate. Journal of Politics, 48 (3). pp. 541-564. ISSN 0022-3816.

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In recent decades, U.S. senators have made increasing use of complex unanimous consent agreements (UCAs) which preclude filibusters by setting a time for a final vote on legislation and which often specify permissible amendments and their proposers. Because of the numerous dilatory tactics permitted in the absence of a UCA, controversial legislation is often doomed unless such an agreement is reached. But in spite of correspondingly strong temptations for opponents to object to unanimous consent requests (UCRs), consent is prevalent. This paper addresses the puzzle with a decision-theoretic model that yields a rather stringent condition for objection to a UCR. Two cases of objection in the Senate are analyzed and found to support hypotheses derived from the model. A concluding discussion considers UCAs as endogenous institutions that permit Senate leaders to induce behavior that appears cooperative but is nonetheless consistent with individual utility maximization.

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Additional Information:© 1986 Southern Political Science Association. Tom Gilligan and Doug Rivers were very helpful in the early stages of this research, as was Walter Oleszek, who brought the cases to my attention. Burdett Loomis propounded the title, and an initial version was presented at the 1985 Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL. Ross Baker and Richard Fenno were valuable discussants there. Subsequently, constructive comments were offered by Barry Weingast, Rod Kiewiet, Eric Uslaner, Carolyn Weaver, Jon Bendor, and John Ferejohn. Formerly SSWP 568.
Subject Keywords:Senators, Upper houses, United States Senate, Expected utility, Political science, Temptation, Wheat, Presidential debates, Congressional voting, Political debate
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171113-153304811
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:83167
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:15 Nov 2017 23:57
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 19:03

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