NEW HOLD ON HAYES NOMINATION
Byline: Joyce Barrett
WASHINGTON — The administration’s textile ambassador nominee, Rita Hayes, is still facing objections in the Senate to her appointment — with no letup in sight.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Trade Subcommittee, is the latest to block consideration of her nomination by putting a hold on it, sources said. Calls to his office were not returned.
Sen. Mike DeWine (R., Ohio) preceded Grassley in holding up Hayes’s nomination but lifted his hold in recent days. Holds are placed anonymously, but word can get out as to who placed them. Sources said the senators are rotating the hold to avoid pressure from colleagues who want to move the nomination through.
The retail industry is behind the obstacles erected to Hayes’s confirmation because of concerns about an anticipated July 1, 1996, change in the rule of origin for apparel import quotas. The change will designate the countries where apparel is sewn as the origin instead of where it is cut. Retailers, according to sources, are seeking promises from the administration that they will agree to public hearings on the change, held either by the Senate or the administration. They believe if the issue is aired, the change will be delayed or canceled.
The textile industry is rising to Hayes’s defense by contacting its friends in the Senate in the hopes of persuading Grassley — and others who have acted on behalf of retailers — to permit a Senate vote. Officials with Fruit of the Loom, Springs Industries and Milliken & Co. are all doing what they can to salvage her nomination.
Ronald Sorini, senior vice president, government relations and international development, Fruit of the Loom, said the delays in the Senate were putting Hayes in an awkward position. She has been U.S. textile negotiator since September. That spot has traditionally been given ambassador rank. Foreign trade negotiators may perceive that Hayes does not have full authority to conduct negotiations for the U.S. and be less willing to negotiate with her, Sorini said.