Presidential Influence Versus Congressional Control in Action (Chapter 4)

79 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2012 Last revised: 29 Apr 2013

See all articles by Helen V. Milner

Helen V. Milner

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Dustin H. Tingley

Harvard University - Department of Government

Date Written: December 2012

Abstract

How important is the President for US foreign policy? Studies in American politics—the Two Presidencies literature — assert that the president is much less constrained by Congress and other domestic forces in foreign policy than in domestic policy. Studies in international relations also often assume that the president is the most important actor in foreign policy and is relatively unconstrained by domestic politics. Additionally, studies in international relations often assume that each issue area in foreign policy can be studied in separation. We challenge each of these views. Using new data on roll call votes in Congress and on Presidential-Congressional budget interactions, we argue that 1. Foreign policy instruments should be analyzed jointly and comparatively because they are substitutable, 2. Some foreign policy instruments are more constrained by Congress and domestic forces and look more like domestic issue areas, 3. Other foreign policy instruments, because they can be linked more directly to national security, allow the President more discretion and influence over their use. Our research has two larger implications. Presidential bargaining with Congress over foreign policy matters since the Presidents tends to be more favorable on average to international engagement; rising congressional influence may circumscribe America’s role in the international system.

Keywords: President, Congress, Foreign Policy, Two Presidencies, National Security

Suggested Citation

Milner, Helen V. and Tingley, Dustin H., Presidential Influence Versus Congressional Control in Action (Chapter 4) (December 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2182045 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2182045

Helen V. Milner (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States
609-258-0181 (Phone)

Dustin H. Tingley

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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