How Experienced Legislative Staff Contribute to Effectiveawmaking*
Jesse M. Crosson, University of Michigan; Geoffrey M. Lorenz, University of Virginia;
Craig Volden, University of Virginia; Alan E. Wiseman, Vanderbilt University
Members of Congress seek to allocate their scarce staff resources carefully, given their multiple, sometimes competing, objectives. Using data on House members’ staff allocations from 1994 to 2013, we demonstrate that legislators advance more (and more significant) legislation when they retain a more experienced legislative staff. This benefit, however, accrues mostly to committee chairs, whose institutional privileges allow them to leverage experienced staff, and to the most junior legislators, whose inexperience can be best supplemented by experienced aides. Finally, we show that legislators do not generally benefit from large legislative staffs, but rather from having
individual legislative staffers with high levels of experience. This finding suggests that a targeted strategy to retain the most experienced legislative staff in Congress may pay the greatest dividends in regards to lawmaking.