WASHINGTON — The Senate Finance Committee approved in a voice vote Wednesday the nomination of Rita Hayes as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative.
The appointment now needs an OK from the full Senate, and Hayes is not out of the woods yet. Her nomination has been sharply criticized by Sen. Phil Gramm (R., Tex.), an ardent free-trader who questions whether Hayes, who has been serving as chief U.S. textile negotiator, is suitably in favor of trade liberalization.
A Finance Committee member, Gramm did not attend the committee hearing, but said Wednesday he was still considering whether to block her nomination procedurally. The nomination has been pending since Sept. 10, when Senate Finance held a confirmation hearing.
In the trade post, she would represent the U.S. at the World Trade Organization in Geneva.
“I’m concerned that if any agency in government should have people who believe in trade, it should be the U.S. Trade Representative,” Gramm has stated. “Looking at her negotiations, I see where textile producers benefit but consumers don’t. Americans pay twice the world market price for textiles.”

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