Dynamic legislative bargaining with veto power: theory and experiments


In many domains, committees bargain over a sequence of policies and a policy remains in effect until a new agreement is reached. In this paper, I argue that, in order to assess the consequences of veto power, it is important to take into account this dynamic aspect. I analyze an infinitely repeated divide-the-dollar game with an endogenous status quo policy. I show that full appropriation by the veto player is the only stable policy when legislators are sufficiently impatient; and that, irrespective of legislators' patience and the initial division of resources, there is always an equilibrium where policy eventually gets arbitrarily close to full appropriation by the veto player. In this equilibrium, increasing legislators' patience or decreasing the veto player's proposal power makes convergence to this outcome slower and the veto player supports reforms that decrease his allocation. The main predictions of the theory find support in controlled laboratory experiments.