American Trade Policy: 1923-1995

By Edward S. Kaplan | Go to book overview

States. 109

On November 29 the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the GATT accord on tariffs and trade by a vote of 288 to 146. It was passed by a bipartisan vote after only five hours of heated debate. In the breakdown of the vote, Republicans voted for GATT 121 to 56, while Democrats voted for it 167 to 89, and 1 independent voted against it. It should be noted that the future Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, voted for the agreement. It is interesting that 89 Democrats voted against their president on such an important issue as GATT, and that Clinton had to depend on the Republican party for his victory. However, many of the Democrats contended that forty years of free-trade agreements, including NAFTA, were costing their constituents jobs and resulting in lower salaries for blue collar workers. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, an Ohio Democrat, who voted against the bill, argued that the GATT had not proven beneficial for the American worker in the last forty-seven years. She stated that "real wages for American workers have gone down. You don't have to be a mental giant to figure out that there is a relationship between declining living standards for our workers and our families, and our massive trade deficit." 110

On December I the Senate approved the GATT accord by a vote of 76 to 24. Earlier that same evening a very important procedural vote to waive Senate rules against any bill that adds to the federal deficit was passed by a vote of 68 to 32. Since the trade bill would cost several billions of dollars in tariff revenues and add to the deficit, the vote to waive the rules had to precede the vote on the GATT accord. Voting in favor of the bill were 41 Democrats and 35 Republicans, and voting against it were 13 Democrats and 11 Republicans. 111

One week later, on December 8, Clinton signed the GATT accord making the United States a member of the new WTO. 112 The majority of countries refused to send the GATT accord to their legislative bodies for ratification until the U.S. Congress approved it. WTO President Sutherland echoed the sentiments of the participants of the Uruguay Round when he warned the U.S. Congress in November 1994 that its failure to approve the accord would destroy the existing world trade order. 113


NOTES
1.
U.S. Department of Commerce, United States Trade, Performance and Outlook ( Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, October 1986), p. 111.
1.
New York Times, September 5, 1984, sec. 4, p. 2.
1.
Patrick Low, Trading Free: The GATT and U.S. Trade Policy ( New York: Twentieth Century Fund Press, 1993), pp. 192-193.
1.
New York Times, August 30, 1984, sec. 4, p. 1.
1.
I. M. Destler, American Trade Politics: System under Stress ( New York: Twentieth Century Fund Press, 1986), p. 78.
1.
Ibid.

-132-

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American Trade Policy: 1923-1995
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Economics and Economic History ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Background to the Hawley-Smoot Tariff 1
  • Notes 18
  • 2 - The Hawley-Smoot Tariff 38
  • 3 - The Building of a Liberal Trade Policy 43
  • Notes 60
  • 4 - The Trade Expansion Act and the Kennedy Round 65
  • Notes 86
  • 5 - The Trade Reform Act and the Tokyo Round 89
  • Notes 108
  • 6 - Fair Trade and the Uruguay Round 113
  • Notes 132
  • 7 - The North American Free Trade Agreement 137
  • Notes 156
  • 8 - A Return to Unilateralism 159
  • Notes 167
  • Bibliography 169
  • Index 173
  • About the Author 177
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