The Congressional Experience

David E. Price

Third Edition • August 1, 2004 • 352 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813342627 • $45.00 USD$52.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780786729968 • $25.99 USD$28.99 CAN

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Congressman David Price proves he is uniquely qualified to guide us through the labyrinth of rules, roles, and representatives that is Congress. This third edition is thoroughly updated to cover developments over the past several years—the Bush presidency, consolidated Republican control of the White House and Congress, the plunge from budget surpluses to record deficits, and the Bush revolution in foreign policy. A new chapter has also been on defense and foreign affairs, emphasizing the author’s own work on Middle East policy and Congress’ handling of the war in Iraq. The reader gets a clear sense of the challenges, disappointments, elation, and deep concerns implicit in serving as a member of Congress-especially the kind of member David Price has chosen to be.

David E. Price, a former professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Duke University, has represented North Carolina’s Fourth Congressional District since 1987. He is an at-large Democratic Whip and a member of the Appropriations committee.

The Congressional Experience
by David E. Price

List of Figures and Tables, Preface to the First Edition, Preface to the Second Edition, Preface to the Third Edition,
1. Introduction
2. Getting Elected
The First Campaign
Getting Reelected
The Third Campaign
3. Defeat and Return
The Revolution Hits Home
Campaigning in Clinton’s Shadow, 1998
The 20 and 22 Campaigns
Campaign Reform
4. Getting Adjusted
Getting Started
Setting Up Shop
Family and Career
5. Finding a Niche
Banking, Science, and Small Business
Pursuing Appropriations
Appropriations Regained
Informal Groups and Caucuses
6. Policy Entrepreneurship
The Home Equity Loan Consumer Protection Act
Amending the Housing Bill
Education and Training Initiatives
Appropriations Initiatives
The EPA Building Saga
7. Budget Politics
From Reaganomics to “Read My Lips”
Budget Summitry, 1990
The 1993 Budget Battle
The 1997 Agreement and Beyond
The Great Reversal
8. Parties and Partisanship
Parties and Elections
Organizing the House
The Party Network
The Limits of Partisanship
9. Foreign Policy and Defense
Parliament to Parliament
Promoting Middle East Peace
The “Use of Force”
10. Serving the District
Keeping in Touch
Casework and Grants
11. Religion and Politics
Religious Agendas
The Two Realms
12. Ethics Beyond the Rule Book
Ethics and Policy
What Sort of Member Shall I Be?
Legislative Structures and Legislative Ethics
13. Concluding Reflections
Reform Agendas
Governance, Trust, and Citizenship

“[The Congressional Experience] is a wonderfully valuable book that should be read widely by young people, both undergraduates and graduate students, with an interest in politics and good government. David Price is thoughtful, caring, and thoroughly decent in the way he thinks about his role and his experience.”
— Richard P. Nathan, , The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

Full of insider information, big-picture perspective and thoughtful analysis that we wouldn’t get just from a politician’s memoir. The Congressional Experience is a valuable accounting of history on the run and a good way for you to understand better your congressman’s thinking, whether you agree with him or not.
— The Chapel Hill News

The Congressional Experience is an excellent companion for any citizen or scholar attempting to understand America’s representative body. Price, an accomplished and highly respected Member of Congress and political scientist, guides the reader through the tumultuous years of the 1990s and George W. Bush’s presidency. Along the way, he offers a powerful vision of the Congress-its flaws, strengths, and enduring responsibilities.
— Lee H. Hamilton, , Director, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and former U.S. Representative from Indiana’s Ninth District, 1965–1999

There is no rival to The Congressional Experience. It is required reading for anyone who wants to know how Congress works. Readers have the privilege of reading the systematic insights of a widely respected Congressman and a well-published political scientist, David E. Price. The inside wisdom from the experience of serving as a Member of Congress is combined with the meticulous research and analysis of a political scientist. This unique book stands as a pinnacle in the works on Congress.
— James A. Thurber , Director, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University

What is it like serving in today’s Congress with its strong leaders, weak committees, and bitter partisanship? This is the best inside account available.
— David Mayhew, Yale University

Praise for previous editions:
One of the best and most readable examples of participant observation. It is a superb look at how Congress works and how a new member gets settled in and finds his niche. But Mr. Price’s most valuable contribution comes when he reflects on Congress and its critics.
— Norman J. Ornstein,, New York Times Book Review

We, the readers, are indeed fortunate that he has chosen to devote the necessary time and effort required to produce this volume. Although David Price’s story, as he reminds us, is not a typical one, it provides us with important insights in the congressional career and the operations of the House that are not available elsewhere.
— Political Science Quarterly

Price is an unusually conscientious, thoughtful, and observant member, and a first-rate explainer of process and policy. His book gives a unique and extremely valuable picture of a major political institution as it really works in practice.
— Choice

Takes the reader on a tour of Congress from the inside…. Thoughtful and informative reading.
— Government & Politics Alert

Very timely, given today’s political climate of dissatisfaction and indifference…. a testament to Congressman Price’s effectiveness and integrity-a road map for all those who seek to restore the true meaning and value of public service.
— the late Ronald H. Brown, , U.S. Secretary of Commerce

This is the best inside account of congressional politics we have had in decades. It is a contribution to political science and a natural for college courses.
— David R. Mayhew, , Yale University

To students, or would-be students, of the U.S. Congress, David Price’s book provides the best of two worlds. Instead of a dull academic treatise or a breezy collection of anecdotes, this book brings a political scientist’s analysis to the daily experiences of congressional life. Price’s account of his campaigns and congressional work rolls theory and practice into one.
— Cokie Roberts , National Public Radio and ABC News

David Price is an exceptionally good congressman; his book is an exceptionally good account of service in Congress.
— Terry Sandford

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