Skip to content Skip to navigation

The Constraining Power of the Purse: Executive Discretion and Legislative Appropriations

The Constraining Power of the Purse: Executive Discretion and Legislative Appropriations

March 8, 2017 -
11:30am to 1:00pm
Location: 
Encina Hall West, Room 400 (GSL)
Event Speaker: 
Sharece Thrower, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Vanderbilt University
Event Sponsor: 
The Munro Lectureship Fund and The Lane Center
Abstract: 

Discretion is fundamental to understanding inter-branch interactions in the United States separation of powers system. Yet, measuring discretion in order to test theories of delegation is challenging. The few existing measures have difficulty capturing both delegation and constraint in a consistent way over time. In this paper, we seek to overcome these challenges by offering a novel measure of executive discretion based on legislative appropriations to all agencies, weighted by spending limitations imposed by Congress in appropriations committee reports. We first validate this measure by using it to test the “ally principle,” finding that Congress gives greater discretion to agencies when more ideologically aligned with the president. We also use this new dataset to explore hypotheses from the literature about legislative preference heterogeneity and committee control of agencies. Overall, this measure offers a versatile measure of discretion that researchers can use to explore a variety of questions in American politics. 

Biography: 
Sharece Thrower is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University, since August 2016. Prior to that, she had the pleasure of serving in the Political Science department at the University of Pittsburgh between Fall 2013 and Summer 2016. Her research interests include American political institutions, executive branch policymaking, separation of powers politics, and formal and quantitative methods. Her research has appeared in political science journals including the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, and Presidential Studies Quarterly. 
 
Specifically, much of her work focuses on how both Congress and the courts influence the president's use of various unilateral powers including executive orders, signing statements, rulemaking, and regulatory review. She also explores how many of these constraints influence the longevity of executive policies.  Further, she is working to apply existing federal SOP theories, as well as develop new ones, to state-level policymaking by examining gubernatorial executive orders. Other projects explore the causes and consequences of changes to legislative capacity, statutory discretion, as well as motivations in campaign contributions.
 
Sharece Thrower earned her PhD in Politics from Princeton University in July 2013. Before that, she graduated from The Ohio State University in 2008 with a BA in Political Science and Economics.