Panel Paper: Decentralization in the House of Representatives

Friday, November 7, 2014 : 1:30 PM
Navajo (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Dustin Taylor, Johns Hopkins University

This research is based on the decentralization of the modern United States House of Representatives. Meaning, in the modern House there is no central power to determine coherent legislative policy which has resulted in a chaotic and under performing House when compared to previous eras. There has never been an external centralizing power and one internal centralizing power, the Speaker of the House. This ended with the Cannon Revolt in 1910. To reform the House and bring about a coherent legislative making body, a centralizing mechanism must be introduced. This mechanism could be internal, external or both. In any case it must represent the majority (internal) and/or must be binding (external). Reforming the internal structure of the House requires that all House members have first reference in the legislative process, either by eliminating standing committees and reinstitute the Committee of the Whole or assigning all members of the House membership to all standing committees. Regardless of the method, all members must be equal and encompass a centralizing body that creates and produces legislation. An external mechanism would require establishing a national political party system that binds its nominees to a unified set of policies as determined by the organizing political party. A near infinite number of methods for this are possible, as long as the organizing party is changed from the kaleidoscopic system of over a thousand different direct primaries with over a thousand different binding agreements. Centralization of the House is key to reforming the legislative process into one that is coherent and most importantly representative of the majority of the people of the United States.