WASHINGTON — An Andean trade bill that would drop duties on apparel from the region made of U.S. textiles cleared its first procedural hurdle on Monday.
The Senate voted 69-21 to formally bring the bill to the floor, a small but significant step for legislation that’s expected to attract more controversy once lawmakers attach a bill to renew the President’s trade promotion authority. TPA would mean Congress couldn’t amend trade pacts negotiated by the administration with foreign countries, but only approve or disapprove them.
This vote can’t be construed as necessarily forecasting a final vote since it’s on a procedural issue.
Debate over bills that could lead to increased imports is fueling debate this election year among lawmakers, like in textile-producing states, where manufacturing jobs are being lost to foreign competition. However, trade bills continue to garner strong support on Capitol Hill among lawmakers who consider increased trade as being an overall plus to U.S. jobs and the economy.
The domestic textile industry opposes the Andean bill despite its U.S.-textile-only rule. Mill officials fear a final Andean bill emerging from Congress would be changed to reconcile it with a House bill that allows for regional fabric and some third-country textiles.

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