Taking the Lead on Trade: Legislative Participation, Effectiveness and Strategy in Foreign Trade Policy Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Galantucci, Robert
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • This dissertation examines international trade policy in the United States. Each of the four chapters addresses a theoretical or empirical weakness in the existing literature on trade policy, with a particular focus on Congressional behavior. Broadly, the chapters engage two key themes. Chapters 1 and 2 consider how changes to key political institutions affected legislative participation and effectiveness in the issue area. Chapters 3 and 4 explore underlying influences on legislators' positions on trade policy, and identify several overlooked drivers of Congressional behavior. The first two chapters challenge conventional narratives regarding the purported decline of Congressional participation and influence in trade policy. Several key institutional changes in the 20th century are often said to have displaced Congress from its constitutionally granted role as the branch governing foreign trade policy. Scholarship regularly contends that the ``burden'' of trade policy would be shifted to the executive branch, and that Congress would be insulated from interest group pressures. Chapter 1 casts doubt on these assessments. Examining over a century of bill sponsorship trends, I show that Congress has not become less active in the issue area, notwithstanding substantial delegation to the president and the concomitant expansion of the executive branch trade apparatus. My statistical analysis demonstrates that delegation is actually accompanied by greater participation of the legislature. The analysis yields several other noteworthy results; in particular, I identify a number of additional political and economic factors that play a large role in shaping Congressional attention to trade policy. The results from these models are reinforced by a supplemental statistical analysis relying on USTR Congressional consultation data. Chapter 2 similarly highlights continuity in legislative trade politics. Legislative reorganization in the 1970s is often identified as the point at which key trade committees ``lost control over trade policy.'' In this chapter, I demonstrate that the power hierarchy, in many ways, remains intact. Through a quantitative analysis of legislative effectiveness in the post-war period, I find that many of the traditionally powerful players in trade policy retained their clout. These legislators -- who, for example, serve on key committees or who enjoy seniority or leadership status within Congress -- are far more likely to see their trade policy legislative proposals make it further along in the legislative process. Additionally, beyond standard measures of legislative effectiveness (i.e., bill success), these legislators have also increasingly exerted influence on policy through various oversight mechanisms. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on identifying several often-overlooked influences on legislative behavior on trade policy. The extant literature frequently explores the underlying determinants of legislators' posture on particular policy proposals. This line of scholarship, for example, examines how constituency economic characteristics, campaign contributions and macroeconomic shifts influence elected representatives' stances on trade policy. Chapter 3 identifies another important influence on trade-related behavior: inter-legislator connections. Although legislative behavior is, of course, largely shaped by factors such as constituency interests, the policymaking process takes place in an environment characterized by repeated interaction, reciprocity and a host of other group-based dynamics. Through an ERGM (network) analysis of cosponsorship behavior on trade legislation in several congresses, I highlight the ways in which these network effects can influence support for trade policy proposals. Chapter 4 considers another important influence on legislative behavior on trade. In particular, I examine economic interdependence as a driver of trade and exchange rate policy choice. Here, I focus on the pivotal U.S.-China bilateral relationship. I show that extensive U.S. reliance on the Chinese economy serves to constrain Congressional behavior. Although many industries and legislators voice concerns about China's efforts to artificially reduce the relative value of its currency, legislators recognize the potential implications of taking aggressive action against China. An exchange rate conflict -- one that would spill over into trade policy, and possibly investment policy as well -- would impose severe costs on both economies. A statistical analysis of legislators' support for currency realignment bills reveals that such considerations are reflected in Congressional behavior. Legislators whose constituencies rely on the Chinese economy were more likely to oppose currency realignment legislation, while legislators whose constituencies primarily compete with China supported the bills at a higher rate. This dissertation contributes to several bodies of literature. First, this research engages with prominent historical treatments of trade policy that consider the implications of changes to key political institutions. Notwithstanding a number of seemingly drastic institutional shifts, I find that there is a great deal of continuity in Congressional participation and prerogatives in the issue area (Chapters 1 and 2). Second, this research helps to identify underlying drivers of trade-related behavior. Factors such as inter-legislator relationships (Chapter 3) and the integrated structure of the global economy (Chapter 4), prove to shape legislators' positions in meaningful ways. These factors, then, supplement existing explanations for legislative behavior (see the Appendix for a review and reanalysis of this literature). Finally, this dissertation offers a number of empirical advances by relying on novel data sources, and by applying a number of underutilized statistical approaches in the analysis.
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  • In Copyright
  • Mosley, Layna
  • McKeown, Timothy
  • Roberts, Jason
  • Oatley, Thomas H.
  • Gross, Justin
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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