The Politics of Beer

Analysis of the Congressional Votes on the Beer Bill of 1933

Originally published in Public Choice

Nine days after he took office in March 1933, Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to amend existing federal Prohibition policy so as to allow for the sale and consumption of 3.2% alcohol beer. Over the following 8 days, the so-called “beer bill” was proposed, debated, passed and signed into law. This study analyzes the political decision making behind one of FDR’s earliest New Deal policies. Specifically, we consider how voter preferences, representatives’ ideologies, national party affiliations, and the influence of special interests affected legislative decision making. We find that special interests and party affiliations were particularly important drivers of congressional voting behavior.

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