Congress and the Politics of Foreign Policy

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9780130421548: Congress and the Politics of Foreign Policy

This volume explores the changing parameters of presidential-congressional relations in the area of foreign policy. It addresses the struggle between the three branches of government in view of increasing congressional assertiveness and the complexity of the president's multiple foreign policy agendas. The essays constitute a s comprehensive study on foreign policy making in the 21st century—describing how foreign policy is actually made in Washington, D.C. in such areas as: trade, arms control and proliferation, alliances, defense and intelligence budgets, sanctions, war power, treaties and executive agreements, financial aid, diplomacy, procedural legislation, treaty ratification, and advice and consent. For anyone who wants to advance their understanding and appreciation for the role of three American institutions in the crafting of foreign policy making—the United States Congress, the American Presidency, and the United States Supreme Court.

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About the Author:

COLTON C. CAMPBELL is Assistant Professor of political science at Florida International University. He is author of Discharging Congress: Government by Commission and coeditor of New Majority or Old Minority? The Impact of Republicans on Congress; The Contentious Senate: Partisanship, Ideology, and the Myth of Cool Judgment; and Congress Confronts the Court: The Struggle for Legitimacy and Authority in Lawmaking. He served as an APSA Congressional Fellow in the office of U.S. Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.).

NICOL C. RAE is Professor of political science at Florida International University. He is author of The Decline and Fall of the Liberal Republicans: From 1952 to the Present; Southern Democrats; and Conservative Reformers: The Freshman Class of the 104th Congress. He is coauthor of Governing America and coeditor of New Majority or Old Minority? The Impact of Republicans on Congress and The Contentious Senate: Partisanship, Ideology, and the Myth of Cool Judgment. He served as an APSA Congressional Fellow in the offices of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and U.S. Representative George P. Radanovich (R-Calif.).

JOHN F STACK, JR. is Professor of political science and law at Florida International University and Director of the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship and the Ethnic Studies Certificate Program. He is author of International Conflict in an International City: Boston's Irish, Italians, and Jews, 1935-1944, and coediter of Ethnic Identities in a Transnational World; Policy Choices: Critical Issues in American Foreign Policy; The Primordial Challenge: Ethnicity in the Modern World; The Ethnic Entanglement; and Congress Confronts the Court: The Struggle for Legitimacy and Authority in Lawmaking.

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Despite the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, the dictum that the U.S. Constitution is an invitation to struggle for the privilege of directing American foreign policy is still an accurate description of political reality in contemporary politics. This is the central theme of the essays collected in this book. Accommodation among the three branches of government is made more difficult by the apparent absence of a clear doctrine or paradigm to guide U.S. foreign policy in the post-Cold War era, and the habitual division of partisan control among the branches during the past decade has made such a consensus even more difficult to attain.

There still remains a strong consensus between the political parties and between the branches of government that the executive should generally predominate on national security matters. The chief executive's capacity to deploy U.S. forces and Congress's fear of being perceived as undermining those forces has been a particularly powerful weapon in this regard, as the domestic debates over deployments in Bosnia and Kosovo have indicated. Several of the included chapters delineate the rise of presidential power in terms of executive assertiveness, congressional acquiescence, and judicial sanction.

Nevertheless, Congress can—and does—use its powers and prerogatives to remain an active partner and effective obstacle to presidential ambitions when it chooses to do so. This is perhaps best illustrated by the rise in "message politics" that now pervade the floors of both chambers of Congress, and has also intruded on the foreign policy process. Even in the august Senate, message politics filters into deliberation as with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Perhaps "playing politics" with such ostensibly critical matters as nuclear testing is symptomatic of the generally low salience of foreign and defense policy issues in American politics since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The increased influence of "ethnic" lobbies in U.S. politics since the demise of communism is also on the rise. In the absence of an overriding global foe, these groups are now better able to assert that their particular interest is also the national interest. Several ethnic lobbies, most notably the Israeli, Irish, and Cuban lobbies, have had particular influence on congressional debates over their respective areas of interest, and have often prevailed, as national public opinion remains generally immobilized or unmotivated by these issues.

Is a new U.S. foreign policy doctrine emerging? Some have argued that the global economy and democratization have become the new guidelines for U.S. foreign policy. There appears to be a consensus among elite opinion on these issues in the abstract, but in Congress globalization must contend with many state and local interests, to which members of both parties are electorally committed to give attention. Human rights issues will arouse U.S. concern, but only when other U.S. security interests—such as the preservation of NATO and containment of conflict—are present will America become militarily involved. The higher degree of internationalism prompted by globalization and the end of the Cold War also raises issues of sovereignty and institutional prerogative, of which Congress is jealous. Yet as a global superpower, militarily and economically, the U.S. federal government is unlikely to find its powers compromised by supranational bodies that rely on U.S. participation for their effectiveness.

The terrorist hijackings and assault on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 brought the congressional-presidential relationship once more into focus. As is traditional in a national security crisis, partisan disagreements on Capitol Hill were immediately minimized. The two House leaders, J. Dennis Hasten (R-Ill.) and Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), who had rarely been seen together, appeared jointly on television, while Senate leaders Tom Daschle (D-S.Dak.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) held joint press conferences throughout the first week after the attack. All members of Congress, with the exception of Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), supported an openended resolution authorizing the president to "use all necessary and appropriate force" to combat the terrorists. "When America is threatened, Americans come together," charged Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colo.). "That's true in the Senate as it is everywhere." Pointedly summarized by Senator John R Kerry (D-Mass.), the tragedy "wipes away many of the differences of just forty-eight hours ago."

All this bipartisanship initially translated into a string of legislative victories for the Bush administration in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. But while Congress may remain united on stamping out terrorism, the strain of bipartisanship was evident among the stalwarts of both parties as the president's "war on terrorism" infringed on the normal partisan agenda that had sharply divided lawmakers before September 11. Some Democrats expressed concern about giving the president a blank check in authorizing force. "We know we must bring those responsible to justice," declared Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.). "But my constituents also ask, 'Do we know what means are appropriate to accomplish that?" Other lawmakers urged a more deliberate approach to devising an antiterrorism package, especially as it pertained to definitions of terrorism and limitations on civil liberties. Representative Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), chair of the House Committee on International Relations, had scheduled a meeting to act on the administration's antiterrorism measure but postponed the committee's session a week after demands by committee members from both parties that major elements of the bill be eliminated or revised. And Democrats in the Senate urged patience, delaying a scheduled vote on the president's legislation by weeks, not days as the administration had hoped. Still others quickly called for the use of a parallel-track strategy to allow Congress to work simultaneously on legislation related to the Pentagon and World Trade Center attacks in addition to economic and social domestic issues not related to terrorism such as education, energy, the Patients' Bill of Rights, a prescription drug benefit for seniors, and appropriation bills.

A president's advantage in directing U.S. foreign policy is magnified in times of warfare or crisis, largely because such instances tend to centralize authority. It is not uncommon then for the normal lawmaking process to be short-circuited, or for Congress to delegate authority to the president immediately following recent events. But by nature Congress is a deliberate institution, hesitant to extend presidential power without good reason. With the legislative process moving at double speed in the days following the terrorist attacks, many House Democrats grew increasingly frustrated at being kept on the sidelines while Minority Leader Gephardt and a small cadre of key Democratic lawmakers cut deals with Republican counterparts and President Bush. Rank and file members complained that the Democratic Caucus had not been fully consulted on several key decisions, and that Gephardt's desire for bipartisanship allowed Republicans to coax him into agreements that contradicted the party's interests. Such criticisms also underscored the strains placed on congressional leaders as they worked to accommodate the president's demands in the aftermath of a national security problem.

How long congressional leaders can continue to keep their caucuses in line remains a guessing game, contingent on public approval for or against the president. The Constitution is "an invitation to struggle" in the area of foreign policy, and if hostilities are prolonged (or cease), presidential powers and bipartisanship are likely to dissipate. "People are hoping we can work together," Representative Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said. "But democracy is based on a conflict of ideas. Ultimately, I don't think that you will find a willingness to capitulate simply for the sake of appearing bipartisan." The framers created the presidency to deal with direct threats to the national security of the United States such as that posed by the assault of September 11, 2001, and in such situations the natural disposition of citizens and Congress is to rally around the national leader, the president. The limitations and the maintenance of that consensus will remain contingent, as ever in a pluralistic system, by the perception of presidential success in dealing with the crisis. But in the absence of such a perception the legislative branch will inevitably become more significant.

This book would not have been possible without the cooperation and generosity of many individuals at Florida International University. The Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship Studies made enormous contributions. The steady support and encouragement by Provost Mark B. Rosenberg is especially appreciated. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Thomas Breslin, Vice President for Research, Arthur W. Herriott, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Ivelaw L. Griffith, former Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and now Dean of FIU's Honors College, and Joyce Shaw Peterson, Associate Dean of the Biscayne Bay Campus. We appreciate Timothy J. Power, director of the graduate program in political science at FTU, for facilitating the interest of our graduate students. And we would like to thank Elaine Dillashaw of the Gordon Institute for providing invaluable support, assistance, and, above all, unwavering patience in the production of this book.

A special acknowledgement goes to Paul Herrnson, series editor as well as director of The Center for American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland, College Park, who made a number of constructive suggestions that greatly improved the book's conceptualization and organization. Heather Shelstadt and Jessica Drew at Prentice Hall shepherded the book through the production process. Kari Callaghan Mazzola provided editorial /production supervision, and Dana Chicchelly provided careful copyediting; both Kari and Dana contributed significantly to the volume's clarity. Last, but not least, we are thankful to our families—old and new—who continue to make life a joy and whose love is not contingent on this book's success.

To the reader, we hope our efforts and those of the contributing authors will advance your understanding and appreciation for the role of three U.S. institutions in the crafting of foreign policymaking—the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Presidency, and the U.S. Supreme Court—institutions that are never short of excitement.

Colton C. Campbell
Nicol C. Rae
John F. Stack, Jr.

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