Bach's Little Library
In 1976, after teaching for several years at the University of Massachusetts and spending several more years in various congressional staff positions, I joined the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress in Washington. CRS was and remains an invaluable and unique resource for the members and staff of the House of Representatives and the Senate, offering well--informed, balanced, and policy-neutral information and analysis on issues that attract congressional interest.
For the next 26 years, I focused on the operations of Congress itself, especially its legislative process in committee and on the floor. My task and my goal were to make the rules, precedents, and practices of both houses as accessible as possible to those empowered to use them. Much of my work took the form of meetings, seminars, and telephone conversations, as well as memoranda available only to the Senators or Representatives who requested them. I believe, though, that my most lasting legacy, such as it is, is a series of reports on aspects of the legislative process in Congress that were written either at congressional request or in anticipation of such requests, and that then were available to all members and staff of both parties and in both houses. CRS never accepted direct requests for any of its reports, mine included, from the general public, so this website assembles and makes many of my reports available for the first time.
At the same time, I did not cut my ties completely with the political science community. Beginning in 1980 and for many years thereafter, I presented papers, at political science conferences and other forums, on the congressional process and, in later years, on similar topics in non-American or comparative settings. Some of these papers subsequently were published in academic journals; most were not. Conference papers gave me the luxury to write on subjects that interested me, even if they were of much more limited interest to others, and to write at whatever length I chose, even if that rendered them unpublishable. These papers gave me an opportunity to satisfy my curiosity as well as to address some subjects in ways that were not well-suited to satisfy the largely practical needs and interests of my congressional audience. For better or worse, though, unpublished papers and those published but not in the mainstream American political science journals, soon disappear from memory.
Over the years, when I would be contacted by people who were unaffiliated with Congress but who were interested in a subject that fell within my competence, I frequently found myself referring them to a conference paper or a CRS report that was unfamiliar to them or being asked to provide a copy of a paper or report that they had not been able to locate elsewhere. In retirement, therefore, it occurred to me that, immodest and self-indulgent as it may seem, there might be value in assembling many of these reports and papers in one electronic library. Hence this website.
As you will see, this library is divided primarily into two collections, each of which deserves some explanation.
The first collection comprises conference papers and other articles and papers that I did not write for CRS. This collection is selective; I have excluded several that I wrote before 1980 and others that I wrote for organizations which, I believe, still have a reasonable proprietary interest in them; also excluded are articles written for various encyclopedias. In the case of conference papers that later were published in essentially their original form, I have included only the published versions because they will be easier for others to locate.
The subject of most of these papers is the U.S. Congress. In addition, there are others that also address the comparative implications of American procedures and experiences, and still others that are concerned primarily with some other national assembly (e.g., Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Zambia). These latter papers emerged from my occasional involvement, primarily during the 1990s and the first half of the last decade, with programs to assist national assemblies in new, potential, or recently restored democracies. Finally, this collection includes several essays relating to the Parliament of Australia; these were published in Australia, but in collections that may be hard to locate in the U.S. As of May 2012, the full text of Platypus and Parliament, my 2003 book on the Australian Senate, remains available at this site.
Articles and papers about Congress appear first, followed by those concerned with one or more other national assemblies or national assemblies generally, and concluding with articles and papers focusing on the Australian Parliament.
The second collection consists of many of the CRS reports, all in the public domain, that I wrote between 1976 and my retirement from CRS in 2002. It is organized under three headings: (1) the House of Representatives; (2) the Senate; and (3) bicameral relations and other matters. To the extent it makes sense to do so, the reports under each heading are organized to follow the flow of the legislative process-that is, the relatively few reports addressing the legislative work of committees, then the much larger number of reports concerning the legislative process on the House and Senate floor, and finally, reports on conference committees and others that don't fit neatly under either of the first two headings.
This collection also is not comprehensive. I have not included confidential memoranda, reports that were archived well before my retirement, brief reports on matters that I covered more thoroughly elsewhere, and still other reports that were of interest only for a limited period of time, such as analyses of specific bills and resolutions that would have affected congressional operations.
I also need to stress that the reports you will find here were current as of the time I last revised them, most often in 2001. The links here are to my last revisions of these reports, not to the original versions of them. But Congress changes-too slowly for some and too quickly for others. Many of these reports have been adopted, revised, and updated by my former colleagues or by an outstanding new generation of analysts who will continue to serve Congress well for decades to come. The reports now carry the names of their current authors, which is important so that members and staff of Congress know whom to contact for additional information. A few reports pre-date 2000; I did not revise them after their initial publication, although the final report in the collection has been revised since my retirement.
I have included my final versions of these reports here as a kind of baseline explanation of key aspects of the legislative process in Congress as of early 2001 in most cases, against which the same process today can be compared. However, I encourage anyone whose interest is solely in the contemporary legislative process to secure the most recent versions of the relevant reports, either by requesting them from a Representative or Senator, searching for them on congressional websites such as those of the House Committee on Rules and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, or connecting to websites that also have made some of them available to the public. Even so, it should be remembered that any report about Congress, no matter how recently written or revised, may be overtaken by events, in one respect or another, at any time.
No university or other organization could have offered me as many talented and knowledgeable colleagues who could contribute meaningfully to the accuracy, completeness, and clarity of these reports. They always were willing to take time from their own work to read and comment on drafts of what I was writing. I am happy to thank them all for their advice, especially my friend and mentor, the late Walter Kravitz, and my colleagues for so many years, Richard Beth, Louis Fisher, Walter Oleszek, Paul Rundquist, and James Saturno. Among the analysts who began work at CRS after I left, I am particularly grateful to my friend and collaborator, Elizabeth Rybicki, for her help and counsel.
Several other documents are included under the heading of "Extras," which opens to an explanatory introduction. Under a separate heading is a bibliography that includes references to papers and articles that are not included here as well as full citations for those that are part of the first collection. It also includes testimony before congressional committees and papers appearing in congressional and other government publications.Stanley Bach