Barshefsky Approved; Trade Deal Survives
Woellert, Lorraine, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The Senate yesterday approved the nomination of Charlene Barshefsky as the nation's top trade negotiator, after turning back an attempt by a senior Democrat to torpedo a recent global telecommunications trade deal.
Receiving high praise from lawmakers from both parties, Mrs. Barshefsky's nomination was approved 99-1, with only freshman Sen. Wayne Allard, Colorado Republican, dissenting.
But that vote took place after more than four hours of debate over an amendment from Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, that would have required congressional approval of any trade agreement that "in effect" rewrites U.S. law.
Mr. Hollings' amendment, which failed on an 84-16 vote, targeted a global telecommunications agreement reached last month in Geneva. That pact, he said, overrides a 1934 U.S. law that requires the Federal Communications Commission to approve foreign ownership of U.S. telecommunications firms.
Even as his amendment headed toward defeat yesterday afternoon, Mr. Hollings attacked America's trade record and accused his colleagues of selling out to big business. "Two-thirds of the clothing in this chamber is imported," Mr. Hollings said. "Rather than Congress controlling the multinational [corporations], the multinationals are controlling the Congress."
Many of his colleagues, however, criticized the Hollings amendment as a vague and unnecessary move that threatened to cripple U.S. trade policy and derail Mrs. Barshefsky's confirmation.
"The simple fact is, if there is an inconsistency between the executive agreement and a statute, the statute prevails. Trade agreements cannot effectively change U.S. law," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Delaware Republican.
"The only result the amendment can accomplish is to derail the Barshefsky nomination," Mr. Roth said, calling her a "vigorous advocate and defender of U.S. trade."
Nevertheless, Rep. …