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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 tariffwise.
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. Thev 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 fa legislate, and directly threatens its standing as an independent fine self-determining body.
It has become obvious under the present escape-clause procedure, that Congress has lost its influence: In fact, through an unfortunafc wording of the escape clause gave it away.
As matters stand today the voice of Congress in the escape claus extends not one inch beyond the outer portals of the Tariff Com mission. Once a recommendation leaves the Tairff Commission or its way to the White House the authority of Congress is instantlv and completely dissolved.
The President presumes not to be bound by the criteria laid dowJ by Congress in the escape clause and makes his own disposition o] the Tariff Commission's recommendation as he sees fit, unrestrained by any legislative mandate. The guidance contained in the delegatw power, to repeat, does not extend beyond the Tariff Commission;
The result is that the President operates under delegated povrej without any restraint beyond the need of writing identical letters t< the Finance Committee of the Senate and the Committee of Way^ and Means of the House, and Mr. Chairman, apparently those letten are very easily written.
It is this absolute power of the President to dispose of Tarn Commission recommendations as he pleases that gives rise to mos of the complaints that are made against the administration of tb 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 U override the Tariff Commission is allowed to reside in the President precisely so long will the future experience with the escape claust remain the same as in the past.
That is why the executive power should be curbed in the very dele gation of authority itself. This should be done in such a manner thai Congress will be able to determine how its delegation of power undei the escape clause is to be carried out.
As it is, this is impossible because the President cannot be restraine* since he acknowledges no guidelines established by Congress and feel free to do as he wishes with a power that belongs to the Congress am not to him.
Mr. Chairman, there are several alternate ways by which the la' could be amended to assure the final authority of Congress in th premises. However, the method proposed in H. R. 12591 is not on of them.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, a word about the State Departaei) and executive policy in this whole field. There is an almost pitift faith placed in the trade agreements program to pull us out of ou international difficulties.
This faith borders on desperation and numbers among its adherenl the various women's organizations that believe that trade leads t peace of the world although even now trade is to be used as a weapn of economic warfare against Russia.
The actual value of the trade agreements program to the State !> partment, however, lies principally in the enhancement of the execi tive power. It gives the Department more ammunition and a feelin of a broader range of power in negotiations.
It is more than doubtful, however, that the power borrowed froi Congress and toward which the Department now adopts an attituc of outright ownership, has really helped our foreign relations.
To a considerable extent the present Russian economic challenge an outgrowth of the foreign economic policy of this country. 0» posture of world economic and political leadership, resting all t» heavily upon the principle of buying our way through, has "in Russia the means of driving us from pillar to post; also, it has pfac* a powerful weapon in the hands of countries that seek to play 115 c against Russia.
So long as our diplomacy continues to proceed on the policy of bu ing our way through rather than standing on principle*, so lone
the State Department continue to ask for additional chips from the
?eople and so long will the need for more chips continue unassuaged. "he 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 tlie record.
The Chairman. Without objection they will be inserted in the record.
Thank you very much, Mr. Strackbein.
Will you briefly explain the Thurmond amendment?
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.
The Chairman. Thank you very much, sir.
Mr. Strackbeiw. Along with that, the Thurmond amendment would, instead of granting the President 25 percent reduction powerj in the tariff, cut that down to 10 percent.
The Chairman. Yes, sir.
Have you concluded?
Mr. Strackbein. Yes, sir.
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
Are there any questions?
Senator Kerr. Yes.
I want to ask questions.
Is it your concept that the Tariff Commission is an agency of tin Congress?
Mr. Strackbein. Yes, sir.
Senator Kerr. Created by the Congress to carry out a function ii connection with the responsibility of the Congress under the Const! tution relating to the regulation of trade and commerce?
Mr. Strackbein. Correct.
Senator Kerr. Then does it not seem like more than delegation o an authority, and rather the abandonment of an authority and repudia tion of a responsibility to say that the Executive can nullify or refua to recognize or consider the recommendation of this agency set up ty the Congress unless the Congress then, at a later time, supports il own creature by a two-thirds vote of both Houses?
Mr. Strackbein. Yes, Mr. Kerr, I would go along with that, an say that it was in fact, or that the action taken by Congress in gran ing this power, did in fact result in abandonment by the Congres
Whether it was so intended in the first place or not, it has ron1 to that result.
Senator Kerr. I asked you if it was not only a delegation of ai thority but an abandoning of the responsibility and power platt upon the Congress by the Constitution.
Mr. Strackbein. Yes, I would agree with that except that I do w want to say that Congress intended such abandonment when it del gated this power.
The fact has come about and so I do not suppose it makes m difference whether this was intended by Congress or not.
Senator Kerr. I agree with you that they did not intend to. am only addressing myself in my question to the actual net result the action.
Mr. Strackbein. I agree with you a hundred percent.
Senator Kerr. Do you know who is going to be the next Preside of the United States*
Mr. Strackbein. No; T have not the remotest idea. I don't know who the nominees will be.
Senator Kerr. Does it not seem like an amazing and, in fact, n tounding situation for Congress for a period of 3i/£ years to tin abandon its authority and its responsibility to an identity which n a single Member of the Congress has the remotest idea of who might be?
Mr. Strackbein. It seems preposterous to me, Mr. Kerr, that sui a thing should be proposed, should be seriously proposed.