How can I learn more about the US Senate's nuts and bolts?
January 3, 2016 9:59 AM   Subscribe

I've read Caro's LBJ books and I find them fascinating, but in "Master of the Senate" I felt I missed something - LBJ is described as being a master of the parliamentary procedures, but also strategically ignoring some of the Senate's usual rules, I think mostly in doling out committee chairmanships without respect to the seniority system generally in place. But I don't think the specific maneuvers were ever really explored in depth. I'd like to learn more about the nitty gritty mechanics of the Senate specifically hoping to understand what LBJ did that was unusual.

I have an understanding of the US legislature that's more sophisticated than the Schoolhouse Rock version, but maybe not much more. Is there such a thing as a basic primer of Senate procedures? I don't mind dry, I used to enjoy reading software manuals. I also saw a review of Julian Zelizer's new book "The Fierce Urgency of Now" that makes me think it might be right on target for this- Anybody out there already read it and can recommend one way or the other?
posted by mzurer to Law & Government (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You want Walter J. Oleszek's Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process.

It wouldn't hurt to take a look at How Our Laws Are Made, available online at no cost.
posted by jgirl at 11:01 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

To complement what you learn, here are some good links on the federal budget process.
posted by jgirl at 11:12 AM on January 3, 2016

Yes, you want the Oleszek bible, with the caveat that it will detail the procedures currently in play, not the ones 50 years ago.

Greg Wawro and Eric Schickler, Sarah Binder and Steve Smith, and Greg Koger all have books on the filibuster, if that's what you're more specifically interested in, and if memory serves Barbara Sinclair's _Unorthodox Lawmaking_ has related stuff in it. All of them will be pretty much full on social science, by nerds for nerds, with the exception that books in American politics tend to be repackaged, expanded, and sometimes lightly simplified versions of the real work that got done in a set of articles.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:39 PM on January 3, 2016

Under current Senate rules, the Senate appoints committee members, including chairmen, by resolution (Rule XXIV). There probably was no requirement by rule to nominate people by seniority, and the custom to do so before Johnson was not binding precedent like the precedents on Senate procedures. (Not that the Senate can't change those customs at the drop of a hat.)
posted by grouse at 6:44 AM on January 4, 2016

Response by poster: On the off chance anyone is still watching here, how important would it be to get the most recent edition of Oleszek? Is the information that is specific to the latest rules changes fairly well set off so that I could read a $5 copy from 2003 and then try to fill in the new rules from information off the web?
posted by mzurer at 1:24 PM on January 6, 2016

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