Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version



2019 by the Southern Political Science Association. All rights reserved.



The Journal of Politics, volume 82, number 1. Published online November 21, 2019.


For most congressional legislation, committee consideration is the first and most drastic winnowing point. Organized interest groups try to influence this winnowing. Many have suggested such influence arises from organizational resources. I offer an alternative view based on the need of policy-motivated committee agenda setters to assess the viability of bills before granting them consideration. Such needs incentivize agenda setters to favor legislation supported by organizations representing diverse industries, causes, and other interests. Analyzing new data on organizations’ positions on over 4,700 bills introduced between 2005 and 2014, I show that committee consideration favors such “interest diverse” coalitions, not coalitions that are large but homogeneous or that give high levels of campaign contributions. These associations are stronger when viability information is more valuable, for majority-party bills and bills introduced during divided government. This suggests that lobbying helps agenda setters identify, and promote, legislation likely to garner widespread and diverse support.