Some of the more prominent decision-makers in the policy process are members of Congress since they play the central role in the passage of legislation. The decisions, though, are not made in a vacuum. There are several factors that influence policymakers decisions: values, party affiliation, constituency interests, public opinion, deference, and decision rules. When a member of Congress votes yes or no on a given bill, it may be due to his or her personal values or it may be based on his or her deference to other members of Congress with more experience and knowledge in the given policy area.
If you do not already know it, look up who your member of Congress in the House of Representatives is.(CHARLIE Crist) Once you know his or her name, find your representatives home page on the House of Representatives website to learn more about him or her (background, committee assignments, sponsored legislation, and so forth). In addition, you can use Project Vote Smarts website for biographical information as well as other information. Then, choose a recent piece of legislation from Project Vote Smarts database of issues that is important to you and find out how your representative voted on that bill. Did he or she vote the way that you would have expected? Why did you think that your representative would have voted in a particular way? Using the information that you gathered from the various websites, try to determine why your representative voted the way that he or she did, using the decision criteria listed by Anderson as bases for your assertions (for example, if you are examining the party affiliation criterion, did your representative vote with the rest of his or her party?).