The Dynamics of Lobbying the Hill
IF POLITICAL scientists were charged to design a national legislature to maximize interest group influence, they would be hard pressed to improve on the American Congress. Because any member can introduce legislation, groups can often find someone to write their pet policy into a bill and drop it in the hopper. Because any member can vote the way he or she chooses, groups can bargain with and persuade individual members of both parties instead of dealing with the central party leadership of a parliamentary system. Because policy gets rewritten in subcommittees and committees of both the House and Senate and in conference, and is sometimes amended during floor debates, there are many opportunities to insert special provisions that benefit the group. The multiple steps at which majorities must be assembled give groups who favor the status quo many chances to convince enough legislators to kill a bill. Clearly groups have many points of access to the U.S. Congress.
Members of Congress also have incentives to listen to interest groups. First, members must frequently make decisions on several very large, highly technical pieces of legislation in a single day, especially at the end of the legislative session. Because any single vote can become an issue in the next campaign, members are often quite interested in obtaining information from groups about the policy and political implications of legislation. Second, members must assemble their own electoral coalitions, sometimes