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Unorthodox Lawmaking

Unorthodox Lawmaking
New Legislative Processes in the U.S. Congress

Fifth Edition

September 2016 | 320 pages | CQ Press
“Barbara Sinclair does an excellent job of showing how contemporary lawmaking departs from the traditional legislative process. I can't imagine teaching a course on Congress without this text—it’s absolutely indispensable.”

—Philip Klinkner, Hamilton College

Most major measures wind their way through the contemporary Congress in what Barbara Sinclair has dubbed “unorthodox lawmaking.” In this much-anticipated Fifth Edition of Unorthodox Lawmaking, Sinclair explores the full range of special procedures and processes that make up Congress’s work, as well as the reasons these unconventional routes evolved. The author introduces students to the intricacies of Congress and provides the tools to assess the relative successes and limitations of the legislative process.

This dramatically revised Fifth Edition incorporates a wealth of new cases and examples to illustrate the changes occurring in congressional process. Two entirely new case study chapters highlight Sinclair’s fresh analysis and the book is now introduced by a new foreword from noted scholar and teacher, Bruce I. Oppenheimer, reflecting on this book and Barbara Sinclair’s significant mark on the study of Congress. 
Chapter 1: Clean Air: An Introduction to How the Legislative Process Has Changed
A Note on Data

Chapter 2: Multiple Paths: The Legislative Process in the House of Representatives
Bill Introduction

Bill Referral

Postcommittee Adjustments

Suspension of the Rules

Special Rules

On the Floor

Unorthodox Lawmaking in the House

Chapter 3: Routes and Obstacles: The Legislative Process in the Senate
Bill Introduction

Bill Referral

Postcommittee Adjustments

Scheduling Legislation for the Floor

The Senate Floor

Unorthodox Lawmaking in the Senate

Chapter 4: Getting One Bill: Reconciling House-Senate Differences
Traditional Nonconference Reconciliation Procedures

Conference Committees

The President in the Postpassage Legislative Process

The Final Step

Reconciling Differences: How Much Change?

Chapter 5: Omnibus Legislation, the Budget Process, and Summits
Omnibus Legislation

Authorizations, Appropriations, and Earmarks

The Budget Process

Congress, the President, and Summitry

What Is the Regular Process?

Chapter 6: Why and How the Legislative Process Changed
From Decentralization to Individualism in the Senate

Reform and Its Legacy in the House

Budget Reform

A Hostile Political Climate as a Force for Innovation: The 1980s and Early 1990s

How Internal Reform and a Hostile Climate Spawned Unorthodox Lawmaking

Unorthodox Lawmaking in a Hyperpartisan Era

Chapter 7: Making Nonincremental Policy Change through Hyperunorthodox Procedures: Health Care Reform in 2009-2010
The First Phase: Consultation and Drafting

Building Winning Coalitions to Pass Health Care: Postcommittee and Floor Action

A Long and Convoluted End Game

Making Nonincremental Policy Change in a Partisan Era

Chapter 8: High-Stakes Budget Politics: The 2013 Government Shutdown and the Ryan-Murray Deal
Act One: The FY2014 Budget Resolutions

Act Two: From Budget Resolution to the Ryan-Murray Deal

Unorthodox Budget Politics

Chapter 9: A Cross-Party Coalition Forces Policy Change: The USA Freedom Act
House Action in the 114th Congress

Senate Action in the 114th Congress

Unorthodox Lawmaking and Forms of Bipartisanship

Chapter 10: The Consequences of Unorthodox Lawmaking
Lawmaking in the Contemporary Congress

Unorthodox Lawmaking and Legislative Outcomes

Other Costs and Benefits

Assessing Unorthodox Lawmaking


Unorthodox Lawmaking does an excellent job of synthesizing the legislative process in each chamber. I have not found another book on the market that so clearly addresses the differences like this one does.”

Sophia Wallace
Rutgers University

Unorthodox Lawmaking is a superb foundational text, exploring well-researched variations in lawmaking in ways that are not typically found in other academic resources. It is one of the best examinations of legislative practices available the academic market. Sinclair uses robust research to uncover and analyze the complexities of lawmaking in comprehensible ways. This text is a go-to resource for information about U.S. legislative practices.”

Renée B. Van Vechten
University of Redlands

“Barbara Sinclair does an excellent job of showing how contemporary lawmaking departs from the traditional legislative process. I can't imagine teaching a course on Congress without this text—it’s absolutely indispensable.”

Philip Klinkner
Hamilton College

Unorthodox Lawmaking does a great job of using contemporary examples to provide an in-depth look at the complicated and highly politicized process that defines how a bill becomes a law in modern Congress.”

Michael Lynch
University of Georgia

Unorthodox Lawmaking puts the transformation of the lawmaking process in Congress into context, documenting specific changes that have occurred and providing an argument for precisely why they took place. Sinclair illustrates the use of these new techniques in a way that keeps students interested.”

Vincent Moscardelli
University of Connecticut

Unorthodox Lawmaking is a great read, with a strong foundation about Congress as an institution. Sinclair strikes a balance between general statements and nuance, and demonstrates how complicated the policy process has become. Yet she doesn't leave the reader without some general take-away points about how the process deviates from traditional textbook explanations.”

Maryann Gallagher
Depauw University

“My students have enjoyed reading Unorthodox Lawmaking more than most of the other assigned texts. Sinclair’s writing makes the material approachable and helps precipitate lively discussions.”

James Wallner
Catholic University of America

 “The concept and content of Unorthodox Lawmaking from the very beginning is well done. Sinclair’s use of case studies to illustrate the shift from ‘traditional’ to ‘unorthodox’ processes is impressive.”

Carl Cavalli
University of North Georgia

Unorthodox Lawmaking is straightforward and to-the-point. Sinclair does an excellent job of covering the primary topics, and the examples of unorthodox lawmaking are equally as good. I have used this text myself since reading the second edition.”

Rob Mellen, Jr.
Mississippi State University

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 6

Chapter 8

For instructors

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