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Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process
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Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process

Tenth Edition


504 pages | CQ Press
“Walter Oleszek’s Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process is the gold standard of books on Congress, providing the ideal backbone to any course on Congress.  The book is a must-read for Hill interns and new staff if they want to be effective in their jobs and make a difference.”

– William F. Connelly Jr., Washington & Lee University

Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process examines the entire arc of the legislative process—from a bill’s introduction, to its signature into law, to congressional review of the law’s administrative implementation—and the many procedural pitfalls that exist along the way. Author Walter J. Oleszek and new co-authors Mark Oleszek, Elizabeth Rybicki, and Bill Heniff, Jr. do not shy away from the complexity of the topic, yet they ensure that the operations of Congress are understandable to students and practitioners alike. Through an array of interesting examples, case studies, and the authors’ personal anecdotes, this definitive work delivers timely explanation and analysis of the nation’s premier lawmaking institution.
 
 
Chapter 1: Congress and Lawmaking
The Constitutional Context

 
Functions of Rules and Procedures

 
Rules and Policymaking in Congress

 
Congressional Decision Making

 
The House and Senate Compared

 
Pressures on Members

 
 
Chapter 2: The Congressional Budget Process
Authorization–Appropriations Process

 
Prelude to Budget Reform

 
Evolution of Statutory Budget Procedures

 
The Challenge Ahead

 
Case Study: The Government Shutdown of 2013

 
 
Chapter 3: Preliminary Legislative Action
Categories of Legislation

 
Bill Referral Procedure

 
Consideration in Committee

 
The Committee Chair’s Role

 
Committee Hearings

 
The Markup

 
Committee Markup Procedures

 
The Report

 
Bypassing Committees

 
 
Chapter 4: Scheduling Legislation in the House
The House Legislative Calendars

 
Minor and Noncontroversial Measures

 
Privileged Legislation

 
Major Legislation

 
Promise of Openness by the Majority Party

 
Legislation Blocked in Committee

 
Final Scheduling Steps

 
 
Chapter 5: House Floor Procedure
Debate

 
Voting

 
Consideration of Major Legislation

 
Final Procedural Steps

 
Opposition Tactics

 
 
Chapter 6: Scheduling Legislation in the Senate
Major Scheduling Considerations

 
Classifying Measures

 
Noncontroversial Bills

 
Major Legislation

 
Unanimous Consent Agreements

 
The Track System

 
Scheduling Procedures Compared

 
 
Chapter 7: Senate Floor Procedure
Legislative and Calendar Days

 
Daily Order of Business

 
Debate in the Modern Senate

 
Bills Considered by Unanimous Consent

 
The Amending Process

 
The Filibuster

 
Procedures to Circumvent Committees

 
 
Chapter 8: Resolving House-Senate Differences
Procedural Methods for Reaching Agreement

 
Amendment Exchange Between the Chambers

 
Preconference Considerations

 
Conference Committee Process

 
Presidential Approval or Veto

 
Case Study: A Procedural Sketch: The Surface Transportation Conference, 2012

 
 
Chapter 9: Legislative Oversight
Oversight: An Overview

 
Techniques of Oversight

 
Impeachment

 
Oversight Trends and Incentives

 
Lack of Consensus on Oversight

 
 
Chapter 10: A Dynamic Process
Observations About Lawmaking

 

“Oleszek’s book is wonderful!  It works its way systematically through all the issues that need to be covered in a comprehensive study of Congress; it touches on much of the literature that we go on to read in full and thus shows how all the literature on Congress works together; it is utterly non-partisan (which is crucial); and it demonstrates a love of Congress and a respect for how the institution has developed over time.  Oleszek gives enough history, enough current events, and enough theory for the students to see how all things congressional hang together.  This book is the centerpiece of the class, and I’d never give it up!”

Dianne Rothleder
Northwestern University

“Walter Oleszek’s Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process is the gold standard of books on Congress, providing the ideal backbone to any course on Congress.  The book is a must-read for Hill interns and new staff if they want to be effective in their jobs and make a difference.  He who knows the rules, rules – and Walter Oleszek knows the rules.  The book is fair and evenhanded in addressing controversies in Hill politics and among political scientists.  A solid foundation for anyone seeking to understand Congress today.  None better.” 

 
William F. Connelly Jr.
Washington & Lee University

Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process is well written, well researched and answers important questions about Congress in an accessible way. The strengths of the text clearly lie in the attention to congressional procedure. The text offers a detailed explanation of difficult concepts like filling the amendment tree and the budget and appropriation process. These sometimes highly technical concepts are explained in comprehensive yet clear terms and usually are accompanied by a visual aid of some sort. The graphics are especially important for the students. The explanation also includes plentiful examples and anecdotes from the process. These anecdotes are particularly illuminating when it comes to understanding how the rules and norms of the House and Senate are put into action by members.”

Jason D. Mycoff
University of Delaware

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Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1


Walter Joseph Oleszek

Walter J. Oleszek is a senior specialist in the legislative process at the Congressional Research Service. He has served as either a full-time professional staff aide or consultant to every major House and Senate congressional reorganization effort beginning with passage of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970. In 1993 he served as Policy Director of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. A longtime adjunct faculty member at American University, Oleszek is a frequent lecturer to various academic, governmental, and business groups. He is the author or co-author of several books, including Congressional Procedures and the... More About Author

Mark J. Oleszek

Elizabeth E. Rybicki

Bill Heniff Jr.

SAGE Knowledge is the ultimate social sciences digital library for students, researchers, and faculty. Hosting more than 4,400 titles, it includes an expansive range of SAGE eBook and eReference content, including scholarly monographs, reference works, handbooks, series, professional development titles, and more.

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