House Gives Final OK to Textile Import Curbs
The House gave final congressional approval Friday to a bill curtailing imports of textiles, clothing and shoes, setting up a confrontation with President Reagan, who has vowed to veto the measure as “protectionism.”
The bill passed 248 to 150 after an hour of debate under an expedited procedure that saw the House accept the Senate’s version of the legislation.
Rep. Butler Derrick (D-S.C.) called the measure “a modest effort to help preserve the industry and the million of jobs that depend on it.”
Derrick, head of the Congressional Textile Caucus, noted the election-year attention to the Pledge of Allegiance and said, “Half the flags we’re pledging to were made in the Asian Rim countries.”
But House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) opposed the bill, saying it goes against the “principles of the Omnibus Trade Bill,” which was signed into law a month ago, and encourages other countries to maintain trade barriers.
“This makes the United States and this Congress look like hypocrites. I cannot support a bill that is contradictory to the principles of open and fair trade,” he said.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater has said that if the House sends the bill to the President’s desk it would be vetoed this week. Reagan rejected a similar measure in 1986 and called the current version “protectionism at its worst.”
Congressional supporters of the legislation failed to override the 1986 veto--a two-thirds votes is needed in each chamber--and are unsure whether they can do so this time.
Several provisions in the Senate bill, adopted 59 to 36 last week, were not debated in the House, which passed its version 263 to 156 last year.
Approving the Senate version without working out differences in a conference “blessed the Senate amendments without review” and “mocks the legislative process,” Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, complained.
Both House and Senate bills limited the growth of textile and apparel imports to a 1% annual increase beginning in 1989 and would freeze shoe imports at 1987 levels.
But the Senate version also would auction off 20% of new U.S. quotas as a means of offsetting tariff losses expected by the import reduction, create special quotas for silk neckties and encourage preferential treatment in allocating quotas to nations that buy more U.S. farm products.