Interbranch Negotiations over Policies with Multiple Outcomes



Whereas presidents represent the entire nation, members of Congress serve districts and states. Consequently, presidents and members of Congress often disagree not only about the merits of different policies but also about the criteria used to assess them. To investigate the relevance of jurisdictional−and by extension criterial−differences for policymaking, we revisit classic models of bargaining under uncertainty. Rather than define uncertainty about the mapping of one policy into one outcome, as all previous scholars have done, we allow for every policy to generate two politically relevant outcomes, one local and another national. We then identify equilibria in which the president's utility is increasing in the value that a representative legislator assigns to national outcomes. As an application of this theory, we analyze budgetary politics in war and peace. We find that during periods of war, when members of Congress assign greater importance to the very same national outcomes that preoccupy presidents, congressional appropriations more closely reflect presidential proposals.