The Puzzling Decline in House Support for Free Trade:
Was Fast Track a Referendum on NAFTA?
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXV:591-610
1993, both houses of Congress passed and President Clinton signed the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Just four years later, fast-track
legislation stalled short of a vote in the House of Representatives, despite the
endorsement of the president and majority-party leaders. Using interest group
“head counts” in lieu of roll-call data, I test the theory that fast track
was a referendum on the district-level economic impact of NAFTA. The findings
show that economic and political aftershocks from NAFTA, including trade-related
job losses in many members’ districts, helped to undermine House support for
fast track in 1997.
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