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Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process

Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process

Eleventh Edition

October 2019 | 488 pages | CQ Press
The book does an outstanding job in covering all the necessary details on congressional rules and procedures, most of which are not easy to understand. [...] It has been and will remain to be a must-read for all the congressional politics students and Washington insiders.

– Hong Min Park, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process examines the entire arc of the legislative process—from a bill’s introduction, to its signature into law, to congressional review of the law’s administrative implementation—and the many procedural pitfalls that exist along the way. Author Walter J. Oleszek and co-authors Mark Oleszek, Elizabeth Rybicki, and Bill Heniff, Jr. do not shy away from the complexity of the topic, yet they ensure that the operations of Congress are understandable to students and practitioners alike. Through an array of interesting examples, case studies, and the authors’ personal anecdotes, this definitive work delivers timely explanation and analysis of the nation’s premier lawmaking institution.

About the Authors
Chapter 1: Congress and Lawmaking
The Constitutional Context

Functions of Rules and Procedures

Rules and Policymaking in Congress

Congressional Decision Making

The House and Senate Compared

Pressures on Members

Chapter 2: The Congressional Budget Process
Authorization–Appropriations Process

Establishing a Congressional Budget Process

Evolution of Statutory Budget Procedures

Case Study: The Government Shutdown of 2013

Chapter 3: Preliminary Legislative Action
Categories of Legislation

Bill Referral Procedure

Consideration in Committee

The Committee Chair’s Role

Committee Hearings

The Markup

Committee Markup Procedures

The Report

Bypassing Committees

Chapter 4: Scheduling Legislation in the House
The House Legislative Calendars

Minor and Noncontroversial Measures

Privileged Legislation

Major Legislation

Promises of Openness by the Majority Party

Legislation Blocked in Committee

Final Scheduling Steps

Chapter 5: House Floor Procedure


Consideration of Major Legislation

Final Procedural Steps

Opposition Tactics

Chapter 6: Scheduling Legislation in the Senate
Legislative and Calendar Days

Calendars and Rule XIV

Motion to Proceed to Consider a Bill

Bills Taken Up by Unanimous Consent

Bills Privileged for Consideration



Executive Businesses

Major Scheduling Considerations

Chapter 7: Senate Floor Procedure
Debate and the Filibuster


The Amending Process

Principle of Precedence and the Amendment Trees

Unanimous Consent Agreements and the Amending Process

Strategic Uses of Amendments

Quorum and Voting Procedures

Procedural Change in the Senate

Chapter 8: Resolving House–Senate Differences
Procedural Methods for Reaching Agreement

Amendment Exchange Between the Chambers

Preconference Considerations

Conference Committee Process

Presidential Approval or Veto

Case Study: A Procedural Sketch: The Surface Transportation Conference, 2012

Chapter 9: Legislative Oversight
Oversight: An Overview

Techniques of Oversight


Oversight Trends and Incentives

Lack of Consensus on Oversight

Chapter 10: A Dynamic Process
Observations About Lawmaking

Centralization of Authority in the Speakership

Congress and the Information Age

Resurgence of Sharp Partisanship

Glossary of Selected Congressional Terms
Selected Bibliography
Selected Internet Sources

“With no exaggeration, I love teaching this text. The main strength of the text is the framing of the work around the policy making process. Our Political Science program has a strong Public Administration tone, so this text explains how the nuts and bolts of policy are created and how the legislative branch truly affects the outcome. We are trying to prepare our students to work in government, so any textbook that explains the nitty-gritty of policy-making is a must teach."

Joshua R. Meddaugh
Clayton State University

“The book does an outstanding job in covering all the necessary details on congressional rules and procedures, most of which are not easy to understand. Oleszek and et. al. successfully explains very technical concepts in a clear and accessible fashion. In addition, a lot of examples and anecdotes certainly help. It has been and will remain to be a must-read for all the congressional politics students and Washington insiders.”

Hong Min Park
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

“This book offers impressively comprehensive coverage of just about every aspect of congressional procedures that I can think of. In terms of the language, the text is very readable and accessible for undergraduates, and I appreciate how the authors have used quotes from members of Congress to illustrate numerous specific points.”

Greg M. Shaw
Illinois Wesleyan University
Key features


  • Comprehensive updated coverage of Congress and the legislative process provides students with an insightful look at the tension between Congress as a lawmaking institution and as a collection of re-election-minded politicians.
  • A judicious balance of great scholarship and currency provides readers with a contemporary look at the realities of the legislative institution and process.
  • Lively case material, along with relevant data, charts, exhibits, maps, and photos, brings concepts to life.
  • New and updated links to congressional information, such as House and Senate floor schedules, committee reports and documents, and bill tracking information
  • New data and information on various congressional procedures 


  • Tables, charts, documents, and exhibits help students better understand the intricacies of the lawmaking process, including such illustrations as a House Committee Report, pages from the Congressional Record, timetables, calendars, schedules, floor plans and seating charts, an amendment tree, excerpts from an appropriations act, a cloture motion, and a conference report.
  • A glossary of Congressional terms serves as a handy reference tool for students.

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