Date of Degree

2-2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Political Science

Advisor

Charles Tien

Subject Categories

American Politics

Keywords

legislation, temporary legislation, public policy, American politics, political strategy, strategic legislation

Abstract

Despite its long standing and historical use, temporary legislation had been a legislative tool largely ignored by scholars for many years. For the most part, temporary legislation had been used to serve specific functions within American politics and, being used in such a limited role, had avoided scrutiny. This changed in the early 2000s, following an exponential increase in the use of temporary legislation in the form of sunset provisions during the G.W. Bush administration. Scholars would debate whether or not this increased use was a good thing or not, arguing for and against a preference of temporary legislation over its “permanent” cousin. It is in these accounts that we find specific reasons that explain the use of temporary legislation: to comply with Congressional rules, to address temporary crises, to promote deliberative discourse, and to encourage fiscal restraint. However, these scholars brushed over the strategic uses of temporary legislation, leaving it under-explained and under-theorized. The goal of this paper is to expand on their work, diving deeper into the strategic uses of temporary legislation, sunset provisions in particular, and using the work of John Kingdon to provide some theoretical grounding to these observations. To achieve this goal this paper details a historical analysis of temporary legislation in the United States and a content analysis of the Congressional Record, searching specifically for provisions within the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003.

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