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who take the brunt of foreign competition from making a reentry into the legislative channels for the full 5-year period.
It would for all practical purposes be the same as closing the doors of Congress during that period so far as general tariff and trade legislation is concerned.
It is difficult indeed to reconcile such a proposal with the very principles of our Government. Two new Congresses will have been elected and will have run their course during this period, without having the opportunity to express themselves on an issue that is very important to those who sent them here.
În these unsettled days 5 years is a long time-particularly in the field of international relations and in view of the great economic and competitive developments abroad, as a result of which one domestic industry after another that was previously unharmed by imports finds foreign products progressively capturing more and more of the domestic market.
Congress should not absent itself, so to speak, for so long a period. Constitutionally it really has no right to do so. It should be possible whenever the need for legislation arises to find the legislative channels open, and not locked by the key of a moratorium.
The reason advanced for the moratorium of 5 years is found in the desire to introduce stability into our foreign economic policy.
Other countries, it is said, find it disconcerting to be confronted with the possibility of tariff changes in this country when such countries greatly increase their exports to these shores. They will not bother to expand their markets here for fear that if they are successful we will raise our tariff or impose a quota.
Parenthetically it might be said, Mr. Chairman, that actually the escape clause cases that have been processed have not impeded imports.
Imports have gone right ahead and in fact in a number of instances have increased before, during and after escape-clause actions.
On the other hand, it seems to matter little or nothing that the lack of safeguards, the want of a remedy, confronts our own industries with uncertainties at least as grave as those faced by other countries when they ship goods into this country.
The House bill would have the effect of throwing nearly the whole burden of uncertainty over the future upon our own industries while seeking to assure other countries of stability.
Five years of uncertainty will greatly cripple some of our industries as indeed uncertainty in recent years has already done.
We hoped that the House would recognize this fact but were handed a nettle for our pains.
The maximum extension in our judgment should be for 2 years. One year would be preferable in view of the present uncertainty in the very elements that undoubtedly weighed heavily in the judgment of the House, namely, the European Common Market and the Russian economic challenge.
I might interpolate here to say that the uncertainty of the European political situation is such that no one knows whether the European Market will actually develop or not, and the same with the Russian situation.
Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that being bound up in the general agreement on tariffs and trade in the manner that we would be for 5 more years under the bill, is one of the least appropriate methods of either confronting Russia economically or the European Common Market tariff wise.
We should keep ourselves as a nation in a more flexible position and avoid these handcuffs.
For example, should we undertake to engage Russia in a campaign of economic warfare we would above all need maneuverability, such as is not provided under GATT nor for that matter by private international trade itself.
We would find it necessary to engage in State trading to an unknown extent. The trade agreements system would be of little or no help; in fact, it might be a liability.
As for the European Common Market, once more the GATT system would work to our disadvantage in tying our hands in a manner quite suitable to the member countries of the European bloc. They could outvote us 6 to 1 and later possibly 16 or 17 to 1, even though their population would be about equal to our own.
The other point of extreme importance in this legislation is the one of control over our foreign trade.
The Constitution is very clear on this point. No one questions this. The trouble has arisen under the delegation of power that has been made from time to time by Congress to the executive branch under the trade agreements program.
Under this delegation the actual power of Congress has been alienated and overwoven by a network of international commitments that in point of fact greatly constricts the freedom of Congress to legislate, and directly threatens its standing as an independent and self-determining body.
It has become obvious under the present escape-clause procedures that Congress has lost its influence: In fact, through an unfortunate wording of the escape clause gave it away.
As matters stand today the voice of Congress in the escape clause extends not one inch beyond the outer portals of the Tariff Commission. Once a recommendation leaves the Tairff Commission on its way to the White House the authority of Congress is instantly and completely dissolved.
The President presumes not to be bound by the criteria laid down by Congress in the escape clause and makes his own disposition of the Tariff Commission's recommendation as he sees fit, unrestrained by any legislative mandate. The guidance contained in the delegated power, to repeat, does not extend beyond the Tariff Commission.
The result is that the President operates under delegated power without any restraint beyond the need of writing identical letters to the Finance Committee of the Senate and the Committee of Ways and Means of the House, and Mr. Chairman, apparently those letters are very easily written.
It is this absolute power of the President to dispose of Tariff Commission recommendations as he pleases that gives rise to most of the complaints that are made against the administration of the Trade Agreements Act.
The effect of this unlimited power, from which there is no appeal, is to enthrone foreign relations as the supreme arbiter over our foreign trade.
The President takes his cue on escape-clause cases principally from the State Department because of its function in the conduct of foreign affairs. The Secretary of State has said that foreign affairs weigh very heavily in the State Department's advice to the President in escape-clause cases.
He so testified before the House Committee on Ways and Means and I believe that he took a similar position before this committee.
However, he also maintains that he gives equal weight to considerations of the domestic economy, such as the injury being inflicted by imports on a domestic industry.
The fact is nevertheless that the State Department's concern is with foreign relations and that these relations, intricate and pressing as they are, tend to crowd out the domestic considerations. Someone else or some other branch of the Government must speak for the people back home if their voice is really to be heard rather than merely listened to and then disregarded.
This is the function of Congress. The Constitution makers placed upon Congress those powers that most closely affect the people, such as taxes, war-declaration, appropriations, the regulation of trade, et cetera.
The most sensitive ones among these must originate in point of legislation in the House, which in turn is the more sensitive of the two Houses to the sentiment of the people, by virtue of the fact they are elected every 2 years and the number is many times greater than the membership of the Senate.
Laying of duties is one of the legislative functions that must start in the House.
It must be clear that when the control over foreign trade such as is centered in the escape clause is brought under the unlimited power of the executive, particularly under circumstances in which foreign affairs are most likely to outweigh the considerations of the domestic economy, this sensitivity and responsiveness provided for this Constitution is not only weakened but actually destroyed.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. What might have been expected from the present system of this executive domination has happened in fact. The escape-clause route has been strewn with the bones of rejected cases. The President since 1951 has refused to put into effect at least 2 of every 3 Tariff Commission recommendations, including 7 or 8 unanimous ones. The latest is the lead and zinc case.
The Tariff Commission itself has failed to find injury in well over half the cases brought before it (some 50 out of 84 cases), thus showing that only the most serious cases have a chance of Tariff Commission support.
The President has promulgated a tariff increase in only 9 cases and 7 of these have related to products of minor commercial significance, such as hatters' fur, alsike clover seed, linen toweling, spring clothespins, et cetera.
I don't mean to say the cases are not important to the particular communities or the people employed in those particular industries, merely because they are small.
I do say that of the 9 cases approved by the President 7 were of minor commercial significance.
This record, I repeat, might have been expected, had not three Presidents in succession, in talking to the Nation, repeatedly given assurances that no domestic industry would be placed in jeopardy by the trade agreements program.
Evidently that was for public consumption and to avoid the spread of dissatisfaction to the general public from the industries that have been turned away.
The Congress has on its part on three occasions amended the escape clause to make certain that its intent was clear.
Yet no difference could subsequently be detected in the final outcome of the cases brought under the amended law.
The inevitable conclusion is that so long as this absolute power to override the Tariff Commission is allowed to reside in the President precisely so long will the future experience with the escape clause remain the same as in the past.
That is why the executive power should be curbed in the very delegation of authority itself. This should be done in such a manner that Congress will be able to determine how its delegation of power under the escape clause is to be carried out.
As it is, this is impossible because the President cannot be restrained since he acknowledges no guidelines established by Congress and feels free to do as he wishes with a power that belongs to the Congress and not to him.
Mr. Chairman, there are several alternate ways by which the law could be amended to assure the final authority of Congress in the premises. However, the method proposed in H. R. 12591 is not one of them.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, a word about the State Department and executive policy in this whole field. There is an almost pitiful faith placed in the trade agreements program to pull us out of our international difficulties.
This faith borders on desperation and numbers among its adherents the various women's organizations that believe that trade leads to peace of the world although even now trade is to be used as a weapon of economic warfare against Russia.
The actual value of the trade agreements program to the State Department, however, lies principally in the enhancement of the executive power. It gives the Department more ammunition and a feeling of a broader range of power in negotiations.
It is more than doubtful, however, that the power borrowed from Congress and toward which the Department now adopts an attitude of outright ownership, has really helped our foreign relations.
To a considerable extent the present Russian economic challenge is an outgrowth of the foreign economic policy of this country. Our posture of world economic and political leadership, resting all too heavily upon the principle of buying our way through, has given Russia the means of driving us from pillar to post; also, it has placed a powerful weapon in the hands of countries that seek to play us off against Russia.
So long as our diplomacy continues to proceed on the policy of buying our way through rather than standing on principle, so long will
the State Department continue to ask for additional chips from the people and so long will the need for more chips continue unassuaged. The trade agreements program with its call for further tariff reductions is but a measure of the weakness of our diplomacy.
What is now proposed in H. R. 12591 is more of the same rather than a redirection of a bootless and bottomless policy.
We give our support to the amendment to H. R. 12591 introduced into the Senate on June 24 by Senator Strom Thurmond and strongly urge this committee to adopt it. This would restore some of the balance now lacking in the trade agreements program. Mr. Chairman, that concludes my written statement I have a few documents that I would like to insert in the record.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection they will be inserted in the record.
Thank you very much, Mr. Strackbein.
Mr. STRACKBEIN. The Thurmond amendment provides, No. 1, for a 2-year extension, and, No. 2, for Tariff Commission recommendations to be sent to the Congress as well as to the President.
Should the President disagree with the Tariff Commission recommendation and seek to reject it, he would so propose to Congress.
If neither House acted or if a Congress did not take action within 60 days, the Tariff Commission's recommendation would go into effect.
In other words, the burden would be placed upon the President to obtain the approval of Congress to his proposal of rejection.
The difference between that and the present bill, the H. R. 12591, is that the burden in the latter is placed on an industry that has succeeded in gaining a favorable recommendation from the Tariff Commission.
Under the present bill, the bill before this committee, a Presidential veto or rejection of a Tariff Commission recommendation would stand unless overridden by the two-third vote majority of both Houses of Congress. There is a very considerable difference between these two proposals.
In the Thurmond bill recognition is given to the fact that the original power of regulating foreign commerce and the constitutional responsibility of laying and collecting taxes and duties resides in Congress.
The President's right is only secondary. It is a delegated power and, therefore, the bill recognizes that Congress should have the last word, and that it should be the burden of the President to gain the support of Congress rather than the other way around.
To set up an administrative recommendation on the same basis as a law of Congress requiring a two-thirds vote to override the President does not seem to be justified.
A recommendation of the Tariff Commission is not an act of Congress. It is one step in an administrative process, one step in an administrative process, may I repeat, carried out under law that has already been passed and already been signed by the President.
Therefore to put a recommendation of the Tariff Commission and its rejection by the President on the same basis as the overriding of a veto of a law passed by Congress, does not seem to be justified and the Thurmond amendment makes that distinction.