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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.

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  
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  
Promise 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 Filibuster  
The Amending Process  
Voting and Quorum 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  

“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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ISBN: 9781506367491