Angela Bradbery Authors Article on the Influence of Names on Legislative Bills
Angela Bradbery, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications, is the author of “Infrastructure? Or Jobs? Controversy Over Name of Biden Proposal Highlights Long Tradition in Politics” published in The Conversation on April 15.
Bradbery writes about President Biden’s infrastructure plan and his choice to name it the “American Jobs Plan.” She cites the pushback it has created among some Republican lawmakers.
“Controversy over legislative bill names is hardly new. Politicians have long used bill titles as a marketing vehicle, concocting sometimes misleading and outlandish monikers to get media attention, drum up support – who can be against leaving no child behind? – and frame the conversation around the bill before their opponents do,” Bradberry writes.
According to Bradbery, sometimes the whole point of legislation is to start a conversation and show the public that a lawmaker or political party cares about an issue. She says that it’s unclear whether a bill title can affect a congressional vote, but it can have serious implications if the law ends up before the U.S. Supreme Court, where the title can be used to infer legislative intent.
“But trying to brand one proposal as two things violates the rules of branding, and coverage of Biden’s plan highlights the dangers of doing so. Some media referred to Biden’s proposal as an infrastructure measure, while other headlines blared about his jobs plan. Confusing? Yes, especially given the rapid-fire nature of proposals coming out of the White House these days. One could be excused for wondering whether Biden had released two plans instead of one.”