The roots of legislative durability : how information, deliberation, and compromise create laws that last
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The central question of this dissertation is “What makes law last?” I argue that when legislators seek out diverse sources of information, engage in deliberation, and reach a substantive compromise, they pass the most durable law. To investigate legislative durability, I hand-collected a dataset, drawn from the volumes of the United States Code, that documents the longevity of all 268,935 provisions of federal law passed between 1789 and 2012. Through a combination of logistic and duration analysis I find that the most durable provisions are the subject of lengthy deliberation and are voted on before the last moments of a Congressional session. They are normally referred to multiple House and Senate committees and are enacted after Congress has gained institutional experience in a particular policy area. Durable laws also tend to be considered under open rules and exclude non-germane provisions. Finally, provision level durability is conditional on changes in control of Congress and the public’s preferences for a more or less active federal government.