Effort, intensity and position taking: Reconsidering obstruction in the pre-cloture senate

Kathleen Bawn, Gregory Koger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Effort is a crucial element of the legislative process - writing bills, forming coalitions, crafting strategies, and debating. We develop a model in which legislative decisions are the product of competitive effort by two teams, one trying to pass new legislation, and the other to block it. Teams choose effort levels based on preferences over the policy outcome, political rewards for effort, and opportunity costs, and the team that produces more effort wins. We apply this model to four cases of major legislation from the pre-cloture Senate: passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, the Ship Purchase Act of 1915, the Ship Arming bill of 1917, and the adoption of the Senate cloture rule in 1917. These cases demonstrate the value of looking beyond legislative voting and the rules that structure it, and of including effort as a key element of the legislative game.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-92
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Theoretical Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Cloture
  • Effort
  • Obstruction
  • Position-taking
  • Preference intensity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Effort, intensity and position taking: Reconsidering obstruction in the pre-cloture senate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this