Paper should be writers personal statement in response to the speech below:
Congressional committees have several important responsibilities, including reviewing and considering legislation, holding hearings, conducting investigations, and overseeing the operations of executive branch agencies within their jurisdiction by conducting oversight hearings and reviewing the budget requests of these agencies. Committees need to be able to fulfill these important responsibilities without undue influence from political parties.
Ideally, committees should have autonomy to decide which bills to forward to a floor vote based on their merits, rather than following the dictates of party leaders. This allows committees to thoroughly review legislation and consider the views of all stakeholders, including experts in relevant fields and members of the public, before making a recommendation. It also allows committees to serve as a check on the legislative process, ensuring that only well-crafted and thoughtful legislation makes it to the floor for a vote.
This is not to say that political parties do not play a role in the operation of congressional committees. Since committee chairs belong to the majority party, they control the committee’s agenda. However, committees are not beholden to the wishes of their party leadership, and members are free to vote their conscience – or at least, in their personal interest – on committee matters. Committee chairs and ranking members are expected to lead their committees in a fair and impartial manner. Generally, the role of political parties in congressional committees should be limited to providing a framework for organizing and prioritizing the work of the committee, but it is ultimately up to the members of the committee to decide how to proceed on specific issues.
This seems to be the common practice; legislators have autonomy to act apart from party discipline. David Mayhew noted in 1974 that legislators’ individual actions often mirror the actions individuals solely focused on reelection would take rather than based solely on party membership. (2000; Mayhew, 2004, p. 14). Legislators can and do deviate from party discipline if constituents favor a different position. A career legislator is likely to take the more salable position over the party one to help reelection chances. (Mayhew, 2000, pp.70-71). Richard Fenno interviewed more than 200 committee members in six House committees for his book comparing congressional committees and “concluded that members pursued three principal goals—reelection, influence within the House, and good public policy.” (Arnold, 2004; Fenno, 1973). Committee members with specific concerns tend to join the same committees. (Berry, 2016, p. 693; Fenno, 1973). It may be that the ability to take a position and speak on issues of interest to a legislator’s constituents (or the member) is the more valuable aspect of committee membership for a legislator unless they have the seniority and party membership required to be a committee chair. (Berry, 693). Interestingly, cooperation may be in the majority party’s interest as well since voter approval of congressional performance benefit the majority party no matter who is in the White House. (Jones, 2004).