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Published July 1997 | public
Journal Article

Congressional committees and the political economy of federal outlays


The literature on the organization of the United States Congress has been dominated by "distributive" and "informational" theory. One important source of disagreement between these two theories is their characterization of whether individual legislators can engage in pork-barrel activities. Here we provide evidence which indicates that the pork-barrel is alive and well in the contemporary United States Congress. We focus on whether members of power and constituency committees can direct disproportionate federal expenditures to their districts. Finding strong and systematic evidence of pork-barrel activities by committee members provides empirical support for distributive theories of legislative organization.

Additional Information

© 1997 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Accepted 14 February 1995. We thank Kenneth Bickers and Robert Stein for access to their "U.S. Domestic Assistance Programs Database," and for their assistance with the data. We also thank Joseph Cooper, John Ferejohn, and Gretchen Kalsow for their comments, and Abby Delman for her assistance.

Additional details

August 19, 2023
October 17, 2023