Nonpartisan vs. Bipartisan Legislation

10 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2014 Last revised: 2 Oct 2020

See all articles by Frank T. Manheim

Frank T. Manheim

Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

Date Written: July 17, 2014


Recent research has focused on the circumstances of passage of the early environmental laws of the 1970s. Among revelations are that a bipartisan group of five Senators led by Senator Edmund Muskie spearheaded enactment of the precedent-setting Clean Air and Clean Water Act amendments of 1970 and 1972. In striking contrast with current Congressional gridlock, both statutes were approved by overwhelming bipartisan votes, including unanimous approval in the Senate.

Senator Howard H. Baker was a member of the group. His engineering background and technical interests helped him to contribute significantly to the technical content of the above and other laws. In 2011 Baker responded to questions about bipartisanship in framing of the revolutionary laws. He pointed out that whereas partisanship is an essential component of democratic systems, bipartisanship is often misunderstood. Creative resolution of problems requires not bipartisan but nonpartisan legislation – development of which places special requirements on lawmakers.

Suggested Citation

Manheim, Frank T., Nonpartisan vs. Bipartisan Legislation (July 17, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Frank T. Manheim (Contact Author)

Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University ( email )

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