Length of congressional tenure and federal spending: Were the voters of Washington state correct?

Michael K. Moore, John R. Hibbing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In this article we determine the nature of the relationship between congressional tenure and the distribution of federal outlays. A popular assumption is that this relationship is a strong one, with senior members of Congress obtaining a disproportionate share of federal dollars for their own constituents. In fact, the argument that senior members are able to perform this feat is suspected to be a factor in the defeat of a term limit initiative in Washington state in 1991. Term limits, it was argued at the time, would put the state of Washington at a disadvantage in the race for favorable federal treatment. Previous empirical research, however, has found little evidence that legislative tenure matters in the distribution of federal dollars, thus throwing into question the validity of popular assumptions about the importance of congressional tenure. By analyzing data at both the state and congressional district levels, we help to specify the conditions under which legislative experience does and does not lead to the acquisition of additional federal dollars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-149
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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