More Effective Than We Thought: Accounting for Legislative Hitchhikers Reveals a More Inclusive and Productive Lawmaking Process

Andreu Casas Salleras, Matthew Denny, John Wilkerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For more than half a century, scholars have been studying legislative effectiveness using a single metric—whether the bills a member sponsors progress through the legislative process. We investigate a less orthodox form of effectiveness—bill proposals that become law as provisions of other bills. Counting these “hitchhiker” bills as additional cases of bill sponsorship success reveals a more productive, less hierarchical, and less partisan lawmaking process. We argue that agenda and procedural constraints are central to understanding why lawmakers pursue hitchhiker strategies. We also investigate the legislative vehicles that attract hitchhikers and find, among other things, that more Senate bills are enacted as hitchhikers on House laws than become law on their own.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-18
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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