The Senate Electoral Cycle and Bicameral Appropriations Politics


Shepsle, Kenneth A, Samuel Abrams, Robert Van Houweling, and Peter Hanson. 2007. “The Senate Electoral Cycle and Bicameral Appropriations Politics”. Copy at

Date Published:

Jul 31, 2007


We consider the consequences of the Senate electoral cycle and bicameralism for distributive politics, introducing the concept of contested credit claiming, i.e. that members of a state’s House and Senate delegations must share the credit for appropriations that originate in their chamber with delegation members in the other chamber. Using data that isolates appropriations of each chamber, we test a model of the strategic incentives contested credit claiming creates. Our empirical analysis indicates that the Senate electoral cycle induces a back-loading of benefi…ts to the end of senatorial terms, but that the House blunts this tendency with countercyclical appropriations. Our analysis informs our understanding of appropriations earmarking, and points a way forward in studying the larger consequences of bicameral legislatures.


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