DOLE SAYS GATT LEGISLATION COULD HAVE A TOUGH TIME
Byline: Jim Ostroff
WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole Sunday signaled legislation needed to implement the GATT Uruguay Round could be in trouble when Congress reconvenes in three weeks to consider it.
Appearing on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press,” Dole (R., Kansas) said he is concerned that lawmakers still have not devised a plan to offset revenue losses revenue losses stemming from the Round’s cutting import duties, including those on apparel and textiles.
The GATT pact also would eliminate the Multi-Fiber Arrangement, and with it, all U.S. import quotas on apparel, fabric and yarns after 10 years. It is slated to take effect Jan. 1.
Dole said he could not guarantee the Senate would muster the 60 votes needed to suspend the requirement that all federal revenue losses due to legislation be offset.
Crucially, Dole — who would become Senate Majority Leader if the GOP recaptures that house in Tuesday’s election — averred he would not make up his mind on the funding issue until later this month. In addition, Dole said, he has qualms that the World Trade Organization, which is to succeed the GATT in regulating trade, could force the U.S. to repeal laws challenged by foreign nations, including those regulating workplace and food safety and environmental rules.
Rebutting Dole, Vice President Al Gore said the Clinton administration has “a formula” to offset the GATT’s revenue losses but didn’t elaborate. Gore did not address the sovereignty issue, although various U.S. trade officials have said this is not an issue.
Despite the Vice President’s assurances, Dole’s reservations about GATT two days before elections signals the White House will face an uphill battle in winning congressional approval for the trade measure.
House and Senate GATT votes were postponed in early October when Sen. Ernest Hollings (D, S.C.), invoked his right as Senate Finance Committee chairman to study the measure for 60 days and hold hearings. Congress is expected to vote on a GATT-implementing bill the week of Nov. 28.
Hollings has expressed the same reservations about GATT as Dole and has urged that the pact be renegotiated.
As reported, Dole and Hollings have been lobbied in person by Roger Milliken, chairman of Milliken Co., to oppose the GATT. Milliken has alleged the Uruguay Round will result in the virtual destruction of key U.S. manufacturing industries, including textiles and apparel.
— Fairchild News Service