Grimmer, Justin and Eleanor Neff Powell (2013) Congressmen in Exile: The Politics and Consequences of Involuntary Committee Removal, The Journal of Politics 75(4):907-920. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022381613000704
We show how preferred committee assignments act as an electoral subsidy for members of Congress—empowering representatives’ legislative careers. When holding preferred assignments, legislators are free to focus on legislative activity in Washington, DC. But when the subsidy is removed, legislators are forced to direct attention to the district. To test our theory of legislative subsidy, we exploit committee exile—the involuntary removal of committee members after a party loses a sizable number of seats. Legislators are selected for exile using members’ rank on the committee, causing exiled and remaining legislators to appear strikingly similar. Using exile, we show that it has only limited electoral consequences, but this is partly due to compensatory efforts. Exiled legislators shift attention away from Washington and towards the district: they raise and spend more money for reelection, author less legislation, are absent for more days of voting, and vote with their party less often.
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