Oversight: Representing the Interests of Blacks and Latinos in Congress

Oversight: Representing the Interests of Blacks and Latinos in Congress

by Michael D. Minta

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Oversight answers the question of whether black and Latino legislators better represent minority interests in Congress than white legislators, and it is the first book on the subject to focus on congressional oversight rather than roll-call voting. In this important book, Michael Minta demonstrates that minority lawmakers provide qualitatively better representation of black and Latino interests than their white counterparts. They are more likely to intervene in decision making by federal agencies by testifying in support of minority interests at congressional oversight hearings. Minority legislators write more letters urging agency officials to enforce civil rights policies, and spend significant time and effort advocating for solutions to problems that affect all racial and ethnic groups, such as poverty, inadequate health care, fair housing, and community development.

In Oversight, Minta argues that minority members of Congress act on behalf of broad minority interests--inside and outside their districts--because of a shared bond of experience and a sense of linked fate. He shows how the presence of black and Latino legislators in the committee room increases the chances that minority perspectives and concerns will be addressed in committee deliberations, and also how minority lawmakers are effective at countering negative stereotypes about minorities in policy debates on issues like affirmative action and affordable housing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400840342
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 08/08/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 176
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Michael D. Minta is assistant professor of African and African American studies and political science at Washington University in St. Louis.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables ix
Acknowledgments xi
Chapter 1: Introduction 1
Voting as a Measure of Representation 5
Oversight as a Form of Political Representation 10
Strategic Group Uplift 12
Chapter Outline 14
Chapter 2: Race, Ethnicity, and a Theory of Substantive Representation in Congressional Oversight 16
Origins and Presence of Strategic Group Uplift in African Americans 18
Origins of Strategic Group Uplift for Latino Legislators 23
Hypotheses and Alternative Explanations 26
Conclusion 33
Chapter 3: Congress, Minority Interests, and Federal Policymaking 35
Congressional Intervention and African Americans 37
Mexican Americans and the Federal Government 45
Puerto Ricans and the Federal Government 46
Cuban Americans and Federal Government Intervention 47
Federal Interventions and Latino Interests 48
Federal Attention to Racial and Social Welfare Policies 50
Conclusion 52
Chapter 4: Black and Brown Voices in Committee Deliberations on Civil Rights 54
Measuring Advocacy of Minority Interests in Committees 56
Racial and Ethnic Diversity of Congressional Overseers and Legislative Responsiveness 60
Civil Rights Enforcement in the Clinton Years 63
Return to Republican Rule and the Fight for Minority Rights 66
Civil Rights Enforcement in the Post-9/11 Era 76
Beyond the Deliberations 80
Conclusion 82
Chapter 5: Congressional Oversight and Social Welfare Policy 84
Racial and Ethnic Diversity of Congressional Overseers 85
Congressional Attention to Social Welfare Issues and Legislative Responsiveness 88
Liberal Social Welfare Policy and the Clinton Years 90
Diversity of Perspectives and Challenging Negative Stereotypes in Social Welfare Debates 94
The Republicans’ Contract with America and Retrenchment of Social Welfare Policies 97
Diversity of Perspectives in Deliberations 104
Social Welfare Policy in the Post-9/11 Era 106
Conclusion 111
Chapter 6: Conclusion 113
Implications for Racial, Ethnic, and Class-Based Politics 115
Implications for Coalition Politics 117
Implications for Political Representation 118
Legislative Responsiveness and Democratic Accountability 119
Legislators’ Motivations and Strategic Group Uplift 120
Congressional and Bureaucratic Relations 121
Limitations of Strategic Group Uplift 122
Public Policy Implications 123
APPENDIX A Data and Methodology 127
APPENDIX B Coding Protocol for Congressional Hearings 132
APPENDIX C Racial/Ethnic Congressional Hearings Coded 134
APPENDIX D General Social Welfare Congressional Hearings Coded 136
APPENDIX E-G Likelihood of Intervention for Stronger
Enforcement of Civil Rights Policies 139
APPENDIX H-J Likelihood of Intervention for General Social Welfare Policies 142
References 145
Index 155

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