Warring Factions focuses on the United States Senate’s confirmation process, the constitutional process the Senate uses to approve or reject the president’s choices to fill federal government positions. It is a book about history, the evolution, and, arguably, the decline of the process. Most significantly, it is a book that demonstrates the extent to which interest groups and money have transformed the Senate’s confirmation process into a virtual circus.
Based on in-depth research, including two dozen original interviews with United States senators, former senators and Senate staff members and interest group leaders, this volume demonstrates that today’s confirmation process is nothing more than an extension of the Senate’s legislative work. Changes to internal Senate norms in the 1960s and 1970s, coupled with changes to the external political environment, have allowed interest groups to dominate the Senate confirmation process.
The party whips are essential components of the U.S. legislative system, responsible for marshalling party votes and keeping House and Senate party members in line. In The Whips, C. Lawrence Evans offers a comprehensive exploration of coalition building and legislative strategy in the U.S. House and Senate, ranging from the relatively bipartisan, committee-dominated chambers of the 1950s to the highly polarized congresses of the 2000s. In addition to roll call votes and personal interviews with lawmakers and staff, Evans examines the personal papers of dozens of former leaders of the House and Senate, especially former whips. These records allowed Evans to create a database of nearly 1,500 internal leadership polls on hundreds of significant bills across five decades of recent congressional history.
The result is a rich and sweeping understanding of congressional party leaders at work. Since the whips provide valuable political intelligence, they are essential to understanding how coalitions are forged and deals are made on Capitol Hill.
In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, Democrats and Republicans were locked in a fierce battle for the female vote. Democrats charged Republicans with waging a “war on women,” while Republicans countered that Democratic policies actually undermined women’s rights. The women of the Senate wielded particular power, planning press conferences, appearing on political programs, and taking to the Senate floor over gender-related issues such as workplace equality and reproductive rights.
The first book to examine the impact of gender differences in the Senate, Women in the Club is an eye-opening exploration of how women are influencing policy and politics in this erstwhile male bastion of power. Gender, Michele L. Swers shows, is a fundamental factor for women in the Senate, interacting with both party affiliation and individual ideology to shape priorities on policy. Women, for example, are more active proponents of social welfare and women’s rights. But the effects of gender extend beyond mere policy preferences. Senators also develop their priorities with an eye to managing voter expectations about their expertise and advancing their party’s position on a given issue. The election of women in increasing numbers has also coincided with the evolution of the Senate as a highly partisan institution. The stark differences between the parties on issues pertaining to gender have meant that Democratic and Republican senators often assume very different roles as they reconcile their policy views on gender issues with the desire to act as members of partisan teams championing or defending their party’s record in an effort to reach various groups of voters.
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