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Talk explores Congress members' effectiveness

By Leslie King | Emory Report | June 1, 2015

Emory’s Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods hosts a discussion of "Legislative Effectiveness in the United States Congress” on Friday, June 12, at noon in the Modern Languages Building Room 201. Alan Wiseman of Vanderbilt University is the featured speaker.

The event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided to those who RSVP by Tuesday, June 9.

Wiseman, who is associate professor in the Department of Political Science and associate professor of law (by courtesy) at Vanderbilt, will discuss major topics in legislative politics.

“I intend to introduce a measurement technique for identifying which members of the United States House of Representatives are the most effective lawmakers, to identify how a lawmaker's relative effectiveness is related to his/her personal and/or institutional circumstances,” Wiseman says, meaning whether he or she is in the majority party, holds a committee chair, previous experience in state legislatures and other measurement standards. 

He will discuss the 20 most effective representatives of the past 40 years, identifying a collection of strategies and habits that legislators can use to become effective lawmakers.

“I'm also going to draw some collective lessons from more than 35 years of data on five specific habits and strategies that certain legislators have employed across their careers so that they are among the most highly effective lawmakers in the U.S. House,” he explains.

Wiseman will look at:

• how parties influence legislative policymaking;

• the strategies that women and African Americans adopt in Congress to promote their policy goals; and

• how entrepreneurial lawmakers can develop issue expertise to overcome party polarization and policy gridlock.

Wiseman’s talk is based on a book he co-authored, “Legislative Effectiveness in the United States Congress: The Lawmakers.”