On May 15, 2012, the Senate voted 78–20 (Roll CallVote 96) to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for a fur-
ther two years and to increase its financing limit by 40 per
cent to $140 billion. The House voted to approve 330–93(Roll Call Vote 224).
The federal sugar program benefitsdomestic producers through a system of subsidized pricesupport loans and quota barriers against imported sugar.The program forces American consumers to pay prices far above those in world markets for sugar. It also hurts U.S. producers that use sugar as an input, such as bakeries andcandy makers, driving up prices American consumers payfor those products as well. Part of a larger policy of sub-sidized agriculture in the United States, the program is aclassic example of protectionism, benefiting a small groupof producers at the expense of consumers and the nation’soverall economic health.
On June 13, 2012, the Senate voted 50–46 (Roll Call
Vote 119) to table an amendment to the 2012 Farm Billthat would have gradually eliminated the sugar support
program. On June 20 the Senate voted 46–53 (Roll Call
Vote 151) to reject an amendment that would have returnedthe sugar support program to pre-2008 levels.
Senate Farm Bill.
For more than 80 years, the U.S.government has intervened in agricultural productionthrough direct market intervention, subsidies, and trade barriers aimed at propping up prices and production of certain favored crops. Such policies can cost Americanstens of billions of dollars a year as consumers and taxpay-ers.
They also drive up costs for domestic food-processingcompanies, and drive down global prices, hurting poor farmers abroad and complicating efforts to open exportmarkets through trade negotiations. The farm bill that passed the Senate in 2012 would change the subsidy mix by ending so-called “direct payments”—based on historical production and not linked to current production or prices,and therefore relatively less distorting—while replacing itwith subsidized crop insurance that would protect farmersfrom falls in revenue.
On June 21, 2012, the Senate voted 64–35 (Roll CallVote 164) to pass the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs
Act of 2012.
Who Supports Free Trade?
By reviewing how members of the 112th Congressvoted on major trade matters, we can determine to whatextent they supported free trade over government interven-tion. Members were deemed to exhibit a consistent pat-tern if they voted at least two-thirds of the time either for or against trade barriers and trade subsidies. Those whovoted consistently against both trade barriers and subsidieswere classified as
. Those who voted againsttrade barriers and in favor of subsidies were classified as
. Those who supported trade barriers butopposed subsidies were classified as
. Andthose who voted in favor of both trade barriers and sub-sidies were classified as
. Members wererated only if they participated in at least half of the sur-veyed votes.
House—A Mix of Partisan and Bipartisan Issues
Because the House of Representatives only held onevote on trade subsidies between 2011 and 2012, the num- ber of members falling into one of the four categories wassignificantly higher for 112th Congress than in previousstudies. The 112th Congress saw 85 members vote as freetraders, 161 as internationalists, 117 as interventionists, and1 member as an isolationist.The high number of free traders and internationalists inthe 112th Congress likely stems from the fact that three of thefive votes on trade barriers were for long-pending free tradeagreements. Each agreement was opposed by a substantial,though varying, group of Democratic representatives.All 85 of the free traders from the 112th Congresswere Republicans, and 38 of those were freshmen. Thesefreshmen are members of the tea-party class that saw theRepublicans retake the House in the middle of PresidentObama’s first term. Their voting records indicate a strongaffinity for free international markets among the newRepublican members, with 13 of them taking the freetrade position on every vote. Among those with perfect
scores are freshmen Justin Amash (R-MI), Raul Labrador
(R-ID), and Andy Harris (R-MD), as well as returning
members Jean Schmidt (R-OH), Steve Scalise (R-LA),Tom McClintock (R-CA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Jack Kingston (R-GA), Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Ralph Hall(R-TX), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), andMichael Burgess (R-TX).
The 112th Congress saw an especially high number of internationalists, which was the most common category.The popularity of the internationalist category this termappears to be the consequence of strong support amongRepublicans members for free trade agreements combinedwith support for export finance subsidies granted throughthe Export-Import Bank. Expanding the bank’s charter gar-nered broad bipartisan support with only 93 members (allRepublicans) voting against. Internationalist was the onlycategory fitting any of the House leadership, Republicanor Democrat, and included Eric Cantor (R-VA), KevinMcCarthy (R-CA), Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA),
James Lankford (R-OK), and Steny Hoyer (D-MD). Other
internationalists from the 112th Congress were Tim Scott(R-SC), Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Charles Boustany (R-LA),
Kevin Brady (R-TX), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Darrell Issa
(R-CA), and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL).There was only one representative who voted as a con-sistent isolationist in the 112th Congress. Republican Walter
Jones from North Carolina opposed the expansion of subsi
-dies while supporting trade barriers at every opportunity.Interventionists, on the other hand, were very com-mon. The 117 members who voted consistently in favor both barriers and subsidies were almost entirely from theDemocratic Party. These include Tammy Baldwin (D-WI),
John Conyers (D-MI), Barney Frank (D-MA), John Lewis
(D-GA), Mike Michaud (D-ME), Linda Sanchez (D-CA),and Maxine Waters (D-CA) as well as Republicans Steve
LaTourette (R-OH) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ).
While the free trade agreements were passed alongdistinctly partisan lines, none of the votes on trade matters