and Executive Reactions
Political elites wield power at different stages of the legislative process. In the United States, the powerful standing committees of Congress provide the setting for conflicts among competing elites. On the other hand, in Great Britain and those countries influenced by its political system, committees wield little power. In West Germany, they stand in the middle of the spectrum: generally, they neither rubberstamp approval of bills nor pigeonhole them. Rather, they will scrutinize bills with care and propose appropriate amendments to the plenum. The theoretical justification for this middle-range power position is that the committees should not be a tool of the executive but should instead serve as its responsible critics.
The political complexion of the West German committees (which varied in size from 17 to 29 members in the 1953- 1957 session, according to the scope and importance of their specialized activities) is of some importance to each party. Party representation is based on the proportionate strength of each Fraktion in the Bundestag. In turn, each Fraktion selects its committee members primarily on the basis of their expertise or interest. Chairmen are also allocated on the basis