Author(s)

Clara KeussFollow

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

International Organizations, Congressional voting, IO funding

Department

International Studies and Languages

Major

International Studies, Middle East/ North African Emphasis

Abstract

How does domestic politics affect U.S. participation in international organizations? Most of the scholarly attention on participating, influencing, and funding of IOs has focused on overall decisions at the state level. But the 2016 election and subsequent timeframe have highlighted that U.S. voters and their representatives have preferences about IOs that are obscured by this high-level focus. Anecdotal evidence shows that U.S. legislators push decisions at IOs like the World Bank and UN to satisfy the domestic political preferences of their constituents rather than the US’ national interest. (Yet beyond one-off cases, we know very little about how legislators’ votes systematically affect our involvement in and funding of IOs. This paper leverages the rich information available in Congressional bills and roll call votes in Thomas over two decades to explain how partisan ties, legislator backgrounds, and constituency priorities shape U.S. policy decisions toward IOs. It shows that in a handful of “focal” IOs, Congressional preferences for IO participation and funding are more divisive than we have heretofore assumed, and that the polarization goes beyond a strict internationalist-isolationist divide. On the other hand, most IOs escape regular Congressional scrutiny, instead revealing a path dependence toward IO participation. This provides a new explanation for low IO death rates and the lack of systematic change despite sometimes poor IO performance.

Faculty Mentor

Felicity Vabulas

Funding Source or Research Program

Academic Year Undergraduate Research Initiative

Presentation Session

Session C

Start Date

23-4-2021 3:15 PM

End Date

23-4-2021 3:30 PM

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Apr 23rd, 3:15 PM Apr 23rd, 3:30 PM

Domestic Politics of International Organizations

How does domestic politics affect U.S. participation in international organizations? Most of the scholarly attention on participating, influencing, and funding of IOs has focused on overall decisions at the state level. But the 2016 election and subsequent timeframe have highlighted that U.S. voters and their representatives have preferences about IOs that are obscured by this high-level focus. Anecdotal evidence shows that U.S. legislators push decisions at IOs like the World Bank and UN to satisfy the domestic political preferences of their constituents rather than the US’ national interest. (Yet beyond one-off cases, we know very little about how legislators’ votes systematically affect our involvement in and funding of IOs. This paper leverages the rich information available in Congressional bills and roll call votes in Thomas over two decades to explain how partisan ties, legislator backgrounds, and constituency priorities shape U.S. policy decisions toward IOs. It shows that in a handful of “focal” IOs, Congressional preferences for IO participation and funding are more divisive than we have heretofore assumed, and that the polarization goes beyond a strict internationalist-isolationist divide. On the other hand, most IOs escape regular Congressional scrutiny, instead revealing a path dependence toward IO participation. This provides a new explanation for low IO death rates and the lack of systematic change despite sometimes poor IO performance.