The Journal of Politics

ARTICLES

What Happens After the Alarm? Interest Group Subsidies to Legislative Overseers

Richard L. Halla1 and Kristina C. Milera2

a1 University of Michigan

a2 University of Illinois

Abstract

A rich theoretical literature has illuminated the institutional mechanisms through which legislators influence agency policy. We focus on the behavioral ones, examining the decisions of individual legislators to intervene in agency rulemaking. We argue that interest groups play an important but incompletely understood role in the oversight process. They may sound alarms when agencies threaten harm, but they also subsidize the interventions of sympathetic overseers postalarm. We test the theory's hypotheses with data from face-to-face surveys of lobbyists involved in an EPA rulemaking to revise air quality standards. We find that public and private interest groups successfully employ this strategy but that the latter have the advantage, an advantage that does not flow from their substantial contributions to congressional campaigns.

(Received July 26 2007)

(Accepted December 23 2007)

Footnotes

Richard L. Hall is professor of political science and public policy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. Kristina C. Miler is assistant professor of political science, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.

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