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Previously, we reviewed data on each committee’s receptiveness to legislation coming before it, from the Committee on Local Government, which reports the vast majority of bills it hears, to the Committee on Privileges and Elections, which is the stingiest with legislation coming before it.
Member participation also varied among committees, with over 95% of the members of Courts voting on any given bill but fewer than 87% of those on Rehab doing so. Once again, Rules has been excluded from the analysis given the prevalence of voice votes, and C&L has been accorded a membership of ~15.65 to account for the expansion of the committee from 15 to 16 mid-session. Continue reading
It has been said that failure has many fathers, but in Senate committees, failure has many motions. Bills are passed by indefinitely, continued to the following session, stricken, and occasionally left in committee. In the House, bills are also frequently left in committee or tabled. In this post, we’ll take a look at some numbers that help to illustrate just how significant committees are in the legislative process.
In 1924, the country was keeping cool with Coolidge—the popular president would be elected in his own right in a landslide that fall—and both chambers of Congress were firmly in Republican hands, the House under the vigorous leadership of T.R.’s son-in-law, Nick Longworth, and the Senate under the direction of Charles Curtis, to this day the highest-ranking Native American in U.S. political history. The stock market was booming, the post-war malaise had lifted, and Republican fortunes had never been higher—at least not since the end of Reconstruction. It was a good time to be a Republican.
Except in the Old Dominion. Continue reading
In previous posts, we’ve served up some statistics on how Virginia State Senators compared to each other during the 2014 session — but now we’re handing over the reins. Using the script embedded below, select any State Senator to see a list of how often they voted with each colleague, with the majority of the Senate as a whole, and with the average member of each party. Then, clicking on the hyperlinked name of any Senator will take you to a table listing each bill (floor votes) on which the two Senators disagreed.
On Monday, we looked at how member vote patterns illustrate party cohesion and offered a table providing some insight into which members are the most likely to buck the chamber’s consensus. Today we’ll examine which members are the most likely to vote with the average Democrat or Republican, then delve into some of the more interesting legislative pairings. Continue reading
When the General Assembly convenes tomorrow to take up the Governor’s amendments and vetoes, it will see its lightest load since 2008 (tied for the seventh lightest since 1982), dealing with less than two-thirds the average number of amendments and vetoes from the Robb administration to present.
Even though floor votes indicate a considerable degree of unity on the macro level, clear trends are evident in individual voting patterns—trends that shed light on party unity and cohesion, ideological fervor, and the personal predilections of individual Senators.
A political observer might postulate that, on the whole, the Democratic Party is currently the more unified, and the data in the Senate of Virginia bear that out. Seventeen (of 20) Democrats voted with the average member of their party at least 98% of the time, a threshold not cleared by a single Republican.
The average Republican voted with the majority of his or her party 96.6% of the time, compared to 98.3% for Democrats. Only three Democrats voted with their average party colleague less than 98% of the time: Petersen (96.4%), Deeds (96.2%), and Lewis (95.6%).
Although some of the legislative session’s most memorable moments emerge from impassioned debate on the Senate floor, the real work is done in committee—so much so that, optics aside, a bill’s defeat on the chamber floor is a rare event.
In all, there were 2,376 Senate floor votes during the 2014 regular session, but many of these were procedural: roll calls, moving bills through their readings, suspending the rules, and the like. By my count, just under 1,300 votes were substantive, though definitions are necessarily subjective. More objectivity is possible if we limit our analysis to votes on the final passage of legislation (excluding memorial and commending resolutions approved by voice vote); there were 955 such votes in 2014.
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But enough of that. This isn’t a blog about our services, though they’ll certainly come up from time to time. This is a blog about political data.