Political Science

Timothy Turnbull

Research Associate at Spark Admissions
Dissertation The Sources of US Trade Sanctions
Committee Mark Blyth (Chair), Nick Miller, Dan Drezner, Jordan Branch


Job Market Title

Legislating Coercion:  When Congress Imposes Sanctions


In the United States, economic sanctions are typically imposed by the executive branch; however, the US Congress does occasionally impose sanctions of its own. These legislated sanctions exhibit some important differences from those imposed by the executive branch: they are far more rigid than sanctions imposed by the executive branch; they often limit the bargaining ability of the President; and they can be exceedingly difficult to terminate, as they are codified into law and thus their resolution is dependent on domestic partisan politics. However, to date, there is no clear explanation for why Congress chooses to impose its own sanctions only in certain cases. To address this, I utilize an original dataset of all attempts by Congress at imposing sanctions from 1973-2018 to examine which features of the international environment, the sanctions threatened in a given sanctions bill, and domestic partisan politics influence decisions by Congress to impose legislated sanctions and their ultimate success or failure.