The influence of politics and institutional position on distributive policies
Bonneau, Emily Morgan
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Central to the distributive theory is the idea that members of Congress can use strategic committee assignments to fund pork projects for their districts. Committees that are primarily constituency service based are considered most susceptible to pork barrel politics. The Public Works and Transportation Committee, in particular, has developed a reputation for distributing pork projects. Adler??s (2002) study of six committees found impressive evidence that members of certain committees are able to channel disproportionate benefits to their districts??the lone exception was the Public Works and Transportation Committee. Given the folklore about Public Works and ??pork,?? this result seems odd. In this study, I make two major adjustments to the research design. First, I isolate the dollars spent on committee programs that were not allocated by a formula. Formulas have prior built-in controls that are not subject to bargaining after the formula has been set, and thus are not illustrative of the pork process. Second, I expand the years studied (1983-1996) and analyze the data with a pooled cross-section/time series design, which better controls the potential effects of time on the distribution of federal funds. These modifications do not produce results to reconcile the conflict with congressional folklore, instead they question the generalizability of allocation decisions for constituency service committees.