Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Speaker of the House

The Speaker of the House: A Study of Leadership

Matthew N. Green
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Speaker of the House
    Book Description:

    Matthew N. Green provides the first comprehensive analysis of how the Speaker of the House has exercised legislative leadership from 1940 to the present. Green finds that the Speaker's party loyalty is tempered by a host of competing objectives, including reelection, passage of desired public policy laws, handling the interests of the president, and meeting the demands of the House as a whole.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15319-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Chapter 1 “An Office of Great Honor and Influence”: The Speaker of the House of Representatives
    (pp. 1-22)

    As the moment of the vote approached, few were sure what would happen. It was June 2003, and the House of Representatives was considering one of the most important bills of the 108th Congress. The bill was a Republican measure to expand Medicare, the popular federal health care program for seniors, to include prescription drugs. If enacted, it would represent arguably the greatest enlargement of the American social welfare state since the creation of Medicare itself. But the legislation was contentious, invoking dissention within and across both parties. Democrats, who held a minority of seats in the House, claimed that...

  5. Chapter 2 Speaking and Voting on the House Floor
    (pp. 23-59)

    When Speaker O’Neill delivered these remarks on the House floor, he was speaking on behalf of a controversial resolution—to keep U.S. troops deployed in Lebanon—despite considerable opposition from many fellow Democrats. Yet the resolution passed, 270–161. Although a slim majority of his own party (134 of 264) voted against it, the Speaker’s statements had been so effective, wrote one O’Neill biographer, that “it was one of those rare occasions, members of Congress said later, that a speech from the floor changed many votes” (Farrell 2001, 615).

    This example illustrates a useful tool of legislative leadership at the...

  6. Chapter 3 Sam Rayburn and John McCormack
    (pp. 60-110)

    The standard wisdom about two Democratic Speakers, Sam Rayburn of Texas and John McCormack of Massachusetts—who together served almost continuously from 1941 to 1970—is that their leadership was limited in important ways. Historical narratives often relate that neither Speaker possessed or made frequent use of such powers as committee appointments, the selection of committee chairmen, or agenda control. Together with the presence of a sizable southern conservative wing of the Democratic Party, whose members chaired many significant committees and were willing to align with Republicans on key issues, this lack of formal authority constricted both Speakers’ ability to...

  7. Chapter 4 Speaker Leadership in the Reform and Post-Reform House
    (pp. 111-156)

    The modern history of the House is often divided intopre-reform, reform,andpost-reformperiods (for example, Rohde 1991). During the pre-reform period, which lasted until the 1970s, seniority was largely sacrosanct, younger legislators had little power, and party leaders relied on informal means of influence to achieve desired goals.¹ Party discipline was also less rigid, with conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans often crossing party lines when voting.

    Politics in the House underwent a gradual but significant shift in the reform era of the 1970s. Young, activist, liberal, and more independent Democrats grew in number, and they proved willing to...

  8. Chapter 5 Leadership beyond the Floor, 1941 – 1998
    (pp. 157-183)

    Speakers of the House do not limit themselves to influencing legislative outcomes on or near the House floor. They may also exercise influence in other ways, such as by manipulating the agenda, crafting legislation, or strategically referring bills (for example, Shepsle and Bonchek 1997, 390–92). Unlike floor-related behavior, these kinds of leadership techniques are often difficult to observe and have a less certain causal relation to legislative outcomes, but they are no less important. In this chapter, I examine whether the theory of goal-driven leadership can explain such methods of influence. The evidence suggests that in many cases it...

  9. Chapter 6 The Hastert Speakership
    (pp. 184-202)

    Serving between two historic Speakers—Newt Gingrich, the first Republican Speaker in forty years, and Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker in American history—the more low-key Dennis Hastert may suffer from relative neglect by future historians. But Hastert not only achieved a “first” of his own, serving longer as Speaker than any Republican had before, but also presided over the House during enactment of a broad range of significant legislative initiatives, including a major reduction of federal taxes, the creation of a new national education program, a revision of federal campaign finance laws, an expansion of the Medicare health...

  10. Chapter 7 Goal-Oriented Leadership: Trends and Implications
    (pp. 203-222)

    The central claim of this book is that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is a strategic actor who uses legislative leadership to achieve goals central to his or her position in the House. Most Speakers want to remain Speaker, and to ensure this objective they frequently exercise leadership on behalf of their congressional party. But this is not their only important goal. Since Speakers are also representatives, they share two goals with their colleagues in Congress: to get reelected to the House and to enact preferred public policy. Furthermore, Speakers have important duties and roles related to the...

  11. Appendix A: Sources and Use of Data
    (pp. 223-228)
  12. Appendix B: Categorizing Instances of Floor Voting
    (pp. 229-232)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 233-258)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 259-280)
  15. Index
    (pp. 281-292)