GATT BILL HAS ONLY 26 VOTES SECURED IN SENATE: MOYNIHAN
Byline: Joyce Barrett
WASHINGTON — With less than three weeks left before a Senate decision on the GATT Uruguay Round implementing bill, less than half the 60 votes needed have been secured on a technical measure that could determine the fate of the worldwide free trade agreement.
Speaking Sunday on “This Week with David Brinkley,” outgoing chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Daniel P. Moynihan (D., N.Y.), said so far just 26 votes have been secured.
Even before it takes its up-or-down vote on the agreement itself, the Senate could face two technical votes capable of ensuring passage or killing the pact. One point of order could be on whether to just pay for the first five years of revenue loss, expected to amount to about $14 billion, instead of the full 10 years, which could total $40 billion. The second technical vote could be on whether the Senate will agree to the funding formula devised by the Clinton White House in negotiations with congressional committees. Both of these would require 60 votes for passage.
Moynihan also said the upcoming GATT vote would be the first test of the cooperation promised between Republicans, who took charge of the House and Senate in last week’s elections, and the Clinton White House. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R., Kan.), said last week he would not delay the vote, but sent a warning to President Clinton that he has to be more public in defending the agreement and answering its critics. Rep. Newt Gingrich (R., Ga.), has said he expects the House to approve GATT and that he plans to muster Republican support for it.
The Senate is to vote on the agreement Dec. 1, following a Nov. 29 vote in the House. The vote, initially set for early October, was delayed after Sen. Ernest Hollings (D., S.C.), successfully persuaded Senate leaders to give him two months to review the agreement in the Senate Commerce Committee, which he chairs. The House vote was then delayed after support for a pre-election vote dwindled.
Moynihan called the upcoming vote “the most important vote of the decade.” He said, “It’s the culmination of 60 years of American trade policy and represents the largest tax cut in our history.”
On another Sunday talk show, “Meet the Press,” Sen. Phil Gramm (R., Texas), said he remained undecided on the agreement but criticized Clinton for “adding so much extraneous material to the implementing bill.” Gramm said, “The president abused the fast-track system.”
The implementing bill does contain several provisions unrelated to the GATT negotiations, including one that would change the rule of origin for apparel. That provision is viewed as an attempt to appease the textile industry, which feels it was unfairly treated by the 10-year phaseout of the Multi-Fiber Arrangement under GATT. — Fairchild News Service