Policy entrepreneurship in the U.S. Senate: Evidence from morning hour speeches
Using original data from morning hour speeches in the 104 th and 108th Congresses, this study revisits a debate in the literature on the importance of internal and external conditions in explaining policy activism in the Senate. Do internal resources shape entrepreneurial efforts in the Senate, as some argue? Or is behavior of senators as individualistic and unhampered by institutional constraints, as others seem to maintain? And, what role do senators' external circumstances play in explaining their zeal for policy activism?; In addressing these questions, I examine three forms of entrepreneurship on the Senate floor during the morning hour: speech frequency (how frequently senators speak on policy issues), speech focus (how frequently senators speak on state and national issues), and speech frames (how frequently senators frame issues as problems in policy speeches). In my analyses of floor behavior, I distinguish between pre-agenda and agenda speeches. The goal is to reveal the characteristics of policy entrepreneurs in the Senate, who (1) use unstructured floor time during the morning hour to debate pending policy choices (agenda issues) and (2) use this time to pursue and promote issues they view as important, but which have yet to find a place on the Senate agenda (pre-agenda speeches). In my analyses, I explore conditions, internal and external, that distinguish senators who actively purse their policy goals in morning speeches from senators who are less active during the morning hour. Results from this study suggest that internal rules remain important predictors of entrepreneurial efforts in the Senate. I also find that contextual factors, mainly the diversity of state interests, also play an important role in explaining policy activism during the morning hour. These findings confirm and expand on other works in the field and illustrate the strong impact of internal and external factors on policy entrepreneurship in the Senate.