Barden to Powell to Perkins: Leadership and evolution of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, 1951-1984
Reeves, Andree Elizabeth
Doctor of Philosophy
This study analyzes the leadership and development of a U.S. House of Representatives committee over a thirty-five year period. It treats the leadership of three disparate chairmen--Graham A. Barden (D-NC), Adam Clayton Powell (D-NY), and Carl D. Perkins (D-NY)--from 1951 through 1984. Assuming that the chairman is an important determinant of committee structure, operations, and output, it advances the thesis that committees evolve into different organizations as different chairmen take the helm. The research seeks to determine how each chairman affected the committee; to what extent each employed a unique leadership style and had a different impact; and how each used his institutional and personal resources. It focuses on committee development; how the committee differed under each chairman; the effects of House and Caucus reforms; the relationship between committee composition and policy output; and committee voting patterns. After an examination of the committee setting, composition, structure, jurisdiction, workload, and function under each chairman, research shows that each chairman, employing a unique leadership style, had a pronounced but different impact on Education and Labor. Barden's style was obstructionist, Powell's was permissive, and Perkins's was strategic. The committee developed in stages rather than advancing smoothly and incrementally, and changed dramatically under each chairman. It was obstructionist under Barden, facilitating under Powell, and maintaining under Perkins. At the same time, the committee became increasingly complex, decentralized, and democratic. Effects of external reforms were muted since the committee had operated under similar rules for years. According to committee voting records, it was minimally integrated and highly partisan. Major shifts in composition affected outputs. Other findings concern changes in the salience of issues before this committee, the effects of well-defined committee structures and rules on the chairman's leadership style, the chairman's role in decentralization, and committee integration. The implication of this research is that future committee studies should avoid down-playing the impact of the chairman on committee development and policy output. Nor should authors assume that a committee, once organized, forever remains the same.
Political science; Public administration