New Cato web feature offers access and analysis of key trade votes

February 15, 2008

Media Contact: (202) 789-5200

WASHINGTON — The Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies launched a powerful new interactive web feature this week that allows users to access and analyze the trade voting record of any member of Congress spanning more than a decade. 

The new feature reveals how members have voted on 81 major trade votes cast in the House and 62 in the Senate. The votes begin with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993 through the U.S.- Peru FTA at the end of 2007. Other major votes include the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, subsidies and protection for U.S. farm commodities, the Cuban trade embargo, and various bilateral and regional free trade agreements.

“With trade such a hot issue on the campaign trail, users can examine how members of Congress have actually voted on issues affecting the freedom of Americans to trade and invest in the global economy,” said Daniel Griswold, director of the trade center. “The new web site offers a fun and transparent way to find out who really understands and supports free trade. It also shows where and how the two major parties differ on important trade issues.”

According to the web site, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona has voted against higher trade barriers on 88 percent of votes since 1993, and against trade-distorting subsidies on 80 percent, placing him in the category of “Free Trader.” Democratic candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has voted against trade barriers on 31 percent of her votes and against trade subsidies on 14 percent during her Senate career, while rival Sen. Barack Obama has opposed barriers on 36 percent of his votes and subsidies on 0 percent. 

The new feature updates research that had previously been published in a series of Cato studies titled, “Free Trade, Free Markets,” which analyzed congressional voting on trade in the 105th (1997-98) through 108th (2003-04) Congresses.  Users can access the feature directly at the URL www.freetrade.org/congress or by visiting www.freetrade.org and clicking “Trade Vote Records.”