UBC Theses and Dissertations
The national agenda and four negotiations : does the US president promote bipartisan policymaking? Claussen, Laurence Henrik Joshua
Within the field of presidential studies, there has been a lack of comprehensive empirical study on the degree to which the US president promotes bipartisan legislation. More specifically, this thesis considers two research questions. One, does the president promote bipartisan legislation (with significant frequency)? And two, does the president promote bipartisan legislation more or less than Congress itself? We address this gap in the literature with a two-part analysis. Part One examines presidential agenda setting over the last seven administrations (1977-2018) and compares the types of bills promoted by Congress and the President. Part Two, meanwhile, looks at the bill development process for four specific bills – the ratification of NAFTA, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, No Child Left Behind, and the Medicare Modernization Act – and evaluates whether the president promoted bipartisan or partisan strategies during key occasions. Our findings are that the president generally promotes bipartisanship in both policy initiation and bill development. Bipartisan initiations represent more than 50% of presidential agenda setting and presidents consistently promote bipartisan strategies when developing bipartisan bills. Furthermore, while presidents promote bipartisanship less than Congress in setting the agenda, during bill development they promote bipartisan outcomes more than Congress. Finally, while overall bipartisanship is declining, the president’s share in bipartisan outcomes – the proportion of bipartisan bills that are initiated by the White House – is increasing.
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