The Rise of Multiple-Measures Rules in the House of Representatives

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Through most of the modern partisan era, the House Rules Committee adhered to a norm of One Measure, One Rule. Starting in the 1990s, majorities violated this norm on rare occasions, but after 2010, multiple-measures rules became commonplace. This paper argues that multiple, sometimes competing objectives—majority messaging, member position-taking opportunities, and managing limited floor time—motivate the majority’s use of this creative rule. Bills in multiple-measures rules since 2010 have been more majority-unifying and divisive between the parties, and bills appear more in these rules as some time constraints increase. Bills sponsored by rank-and-file members, as compared to committee chairs, are also more likely to be included in multiple-measures packages. A special case of the multiple-measures rule, the bifurcated rule, also governs measures with heightened partisan conflict, and it allows the majority to navigate coalition problems creatively under certain conditions. The multiple-measures trend highlights how the majority continues to evolve special rules to pursue multiple goals under constraints, and it raises important questions about the way these tactics limit floor consideration of procedure.


Congress and the Presidency


Political Science



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