Anti-Presidential Bipartisanship in U.S. Foreign Policy Under Trump: The Case of the International Affairs Budget
35 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2019
Date Written: March 1, 2019
In its first two annual budget requests, the Trump administration proposed very large cuts to U.S. spending on diplomacy and foreign assistance. Rather than approving these proposals, Congressional Democrats and Republicans worked together to maintain civilian international affairs spending at roughly constant levels. This behavior is counterintuitive given prior research finding that American politics are sharply polarized along partisan lines, Congress is often unwilling or unable to challenge the president on foreign policy, and legislators tend to be less internationalist than presidents. In this paper, I examine why a bipartisan coalition in Congress has resisted administration proposals to slash diplomatic and foreign aid programs in this surprising way. I find that the low public salience of international affairs spending and concerted advocacy by an ideologically diverse coalition of highly regarded validators of diplomacy and foreign assistance have facilitated bipartisan congressional internationalism on this issue. More generally, the paper suggests that anti-presidential bipartisanship represents a more important phenomenon in U.S. foreign policy than is commonly understood.
Keywords: U.S. foreign policy, Congress, Trump, Bipartisanship, Polarization, Foreign aid, Spending, Advocacy, Salience
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