Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


Nicholas Jacobs

Second Advisor

Joseph Reisert


The United States Senate has long been heralded as an institution known for its strong reliance upon procedural rules and the leadership that is able to use those rules to their advantage. Recent leaders including Senators Reid, McConnell, and Schumer have attempted to reform the rules of the Senate to its advantage. But why are we seeing this influx in reform now? This thesis utilizes the theory of Conditional Party Government (CPG) to explain the prevalence and lack of reform between 1900 and today. Using roll-call vote data and primary sources such as historical newspapers and the Congressional Record, this study is able to determine just exactly how powerful Senate leadership is in influencing reform and legislation more broadly. In line with predictions of CPG, procedural reform in the Senate has historically occurred during times of partisan divide and slim chamber majorities. Majority Leaders have amassed significant institutional power over time which has led in turn to more partisan legislative outcomes as supermajority barriers such as the filibuster are dismantled.


Senate, Government, Majority Leader, Legislative, CPG, Congress