Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 17 > Issue 4

Local Labor Markets and Party Elite: Crafting Trade Policy in the United States House of Representatives

Adrienne Hosek, Department of Political Science, University of California, Davis, USA, ahosek@ucdavis.edu , Lauren Peritz, Department of Political Science, University of California, Davis, USA, lperitz@ucdavis.edu
 
Suggested Citation
Adrienne Hosek and Lauren Peritz (2022), "Local Labor Markets and Party Elite: Crafting Trade Policy in the United States House of Representatives", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 17: No. 4. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00020048

Forthcoming: 31 Oct 2022
© 2022 A. Hosek and L. Peritz
 
Subjects
 
Keywords
American Congresscosponsorshipglobalizationlabor marketprotectionismtrade policy
 

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In this article:
Introduction 
Trade Policy in U.S. Congress 
Data and the Empirical Approach 
Local Economies, Partisanship, and Bill Support 
How Gatekeeping Steers Policy Direction 
Robustness 
Discussion 
References 

Abstract

Driven by concerns over American jobs, factions within both the Democrat and Republican parties have appealed for greater trade protection. Does the legislative record reflect this rhetoric and have protectionist demands impacted the direction of trade policy in recent decades? Our answers are yes and no, respectively. We investigate the content of all 3356 trade bills introduced in Congress, 2005–2016, and classify them as liberalizing and protectionist. Analyzing legislator decisions to sponsor or cosponsor bills, we show that legislators who represent districts hardest hit by trade competition promote protectionism at a higher rate. We find strong evidence that district economic conditions reinforce the party position for Democrats and reveal intra-party cleavages among Republicans. Yet, these local interests are quickly sidelined in the legislative process. The few trade bills that become public law advance liberalization. The attrition process reflects the positions of party leadership who exercise gatekeeping powers to promote legislation that aligns with productive firms and the broader national interest. Thus we show how local economic conditions, partisan politics, and Congressional elite jointly shape the direction of trade policy, reinforcing U.S. engagement in the global economy.

DOI:10.1561/100.00020048