Campaign Funds and Congressional Party Politics
The midterm elections of 1930 began an era of Democratic Party control in the House that would last for just over sixty years. The Progressive Era reforms that weakened party leaders in the House led to the rise of the seniority system. In 1940, Lyndon B. Johnson organized a massive fundraising campaign on behalf of his House colleagues. In the face of intense criticism, Congress moved to reform its campaign-finance and lobbying laws, and to impose stringent new ethics standards on its members. The passage of the Federal Elections Campaign Act in 1971 strengthened the reporting requirements for campaign contributions and restricted campaign spending. During the 1960s and 1970s, some political scientists claimed that the parties were in a state of decline, while others argued they were in a state of transition. The new dynamic dramatically strengthened the role of the congressional parties in that ambitious members began turning to their party organizations for help in pursuing their personal goals.