Presidential Communication During the Legislative Process

Ian Ostrander, Joel Sievert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Presidents routinely employ public statements to inform Congress about their position on pending legislation. Position-taking is strategic, with presidents choosing whether, how, how often, and when to intervene. We move beyond the traditional dichotomies of issuance and position to explore the timing and frequency of presidential position-taking during the lawmaking process. Method: We use Statements of Administration Policy (SAPs)–bill-specific messages addressed to Congress–to analyze presidential communications. Our regression analyses examine both the frequency of SAPs usage on bills and when in the process presidents communicate their position. Results: We find that presidents take positions sparingly and most often at the early stages of the lawmaking process. Conclusion: Presidential communications during the lawmaking process are more about winnowing options and bargaining over bill text than influencing pivotal votes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1165-1182
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


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