Before the reforms of the 1970s, at least since the revolt against Speaker Joseph G. Cannon in 1910, party leaders of the House of Representatives performed tasks designed to mediate party interests both within and outside of the House. Within the House, their most important functions included organizing the party, scheduling bills, building coalitions, distributing and collecting information, and maintaining party harmony (Ripley 1967). Meanwhile, committee chairs exercised the most discretion over specific policy issues. Outside of the House, the Speaker acted as a mediator between the majority party and the, president, especially if the president was of the same party (Ripley 1969a). Again, however, presidents dealt directly with committee chairs on most policy matters.

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Copyright © 1992 St. Martin's Press. This chapter first appeared in The Postreform Congress.

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