The politics of tariff legislation :a study of congressional action on the reciprocal trade agreements act of 1934 and the extensions of 1937 and 1940



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Baker, Philip G., The Politics of Tariff Legislation: A Study of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934, and the Extensions of 1937 and 1940. Master of Arts, (Government), August, 1955, Sam Houston State Teachers College, Huntsville Texas. 151 pp. Purpose: From the first tariff legislation of 1789 to the 1955 extension of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, the tariff has been a political issue. The major political parties have stated their positions in support of high or low tariff in their respective platforms, and the defense of these ideas has been used as a major issue during some of the past political campaigns. The purpose of this study was two-fold: to study the relation between the activities of members of the two political parties in Congress with regard to the enactment of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act and the official tariff policy of the party; ad, secondly, to ascertain the effectiveness of organized interest groups on the voting behavior of Congressmen irrespective of party affiliation. Methods: A study was made of the legislative action on the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934 and its periodic extensions through 1940. Particular attention was given to the Congressmen who did not vote in accordance with the policy of their party. An analysis was made of the supporters ad opponents of the Acts, their background and interests, voting records, changes in their position of support or opposition, similarity of arguments by Congressmen and interest groups, and parallels in amendments offered by Congressmen and those suggested lobbyists. This was done by making a thorough examination of the Congressional Record, Hearings before the House Committee on Ways and Means, Hearings before the Senate Committee on Finance, and such periodicals as the New York Times. Careful consideration was given to the materials, arguments, and amendments suggested by interest groups, and particularly to that material which reappeared in congressional debates. Letters, editorials, and other communications which are reproduced in the record were noted. Findings: This study found that the tariff question is still a political issue; that the political parties are still the major factor in establishing the policy in regard to tariff legislation; That interest groups are effective in influencing the voting behavior of Congressmen when the economic interests in his area are in a position to be jeopardized; That, although a Congressman may be allied with a particular party, he may not necessarily hold the same views on tariff as those expressed by that party; and, that interest groups need not be “on record” in order to influence the voting behavior of Congressmen. There was also some evidence to indicate that Tariff legislation by Executive Agreement has become a fixed national policy.



Tariff--United States, congressional action, reciprocal trade agreements, History of Trade agreements