House and Senate Lawmakers Pass GATT Recommendations
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Lawmakers on Tuesday approved recommendations to President Clinton for putting a new, tariff-reducing 123-nation world trade accord into force.
After weeks of contentious talks, members of House and Senate committees that deal with trade reached agreement on most provisions of a bill implementing the pact negotiated under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
Because the legislation cannot be amended once it is introduced, the Clinton administration has engaged in a lengthy consultation process with congressional committees before it actually submits its proposal.
The consultation period ended late Tuesday afternoon with unanimous votes by delegates from the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees. The two panels resolved most of their differences and agreed on a financing package to offset $12 billion in tariff revenues expected to be lost during the agreement's first five years.
The funding package includes provisions that would require corporations to shore up their pension funds, thus reducing potential losses for the government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
A few unresolved issues were left for the administration to decide, including provisions affecting Caribbean trade and trade in textiles and tobacco.
The administration hopes to submit the GATT bill on Monday, in time for Congress to pass it before adjourning in mid-October.
At a White House meeting of Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, President Clinton urged lawmakers to set aside partisanship in considering the trade accord, which was negotiated over seven years that ended last December.
"GATT was started under President Reagan, continued under President Bush, completed under our administration," Clinton said. "It has been a bipartisan effort all the way, and I hope it can be completed in a speedy and bipartisan fashion this year. …