SEN. DOLE AIMS TO LINK WTO WITH BUDGET
Byline: Joyce Barrett
WASHINGTON — On the heels of the first major ruling against the U.S. by the World Trade Organization, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole said Thursday he planned to link his plan for U.S. withdrawal from the WTO to current negotiations on balancing the federal budget.
“If we get a balanced budget agreement, I’m going to put my bill on it,” Dole said in response to a reporter’s question.
Dole’s WTO bill, which has been stalled in the Senate for a year, would create a five-judge Dispute Settlement Review Commission with authority to recommend U.S. withdrawal from the WTO if three rulings were made against the U.S. within five years. Dole secured the Clinton administration’s backing for his bill in exchange for his support of the GATT Uruguay Round in 1994.
Dole, along with opponents of GATT, has been criticizing the WTO since it was proposed as part of the GATT Uruguay Round in 1993 on the grounds that it threatens U.S. sovereignty.
The WTO ruling, issued Wednesday, challenges some procedures the Environmental Protection Agency follows in implementing the Clean Air Act. The complaint was brought against the U.S. by Venezuela and Brazil charging the act discriminates against foreign oil refiners.
Robert Hall, vice president and government affairs counsel for the National Retail Federation, said he was concerned about Dole’s attempts to revive his plan. “It only plays into the hands of protectionists, which could threaten retailers and ultimately consumers,” Hall said.
On the other hand, Jock Nash, Washington counsel for Milliken & Co., which opposed creation of the WTO, said Dole’s bill did not do enough to protect U.S. sovereignty.