July 23,2002

Grassley on Resolving Trade Legislation

Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley
on the House and Senate Conference on the Trade Act of 2002
Tuesday, July 23, 2002

I’d like to thank Chairmen Thomas and Baucus for convening this meeting of the tradeconferees this afternoon. It’s high time we begin our work in resolving the differences between theHouse and Senate trade bills. It’s been almost eight months since the House passed its version ofTrade Promotion Authority. The Senate bill passed almost two months ago, so we need to getstarted.

I’m disappointed I couldn’t be here in person on this historic day. However, the Senate isdebating Medicare prescription drug proposals, including a tripartisan proposal I developed alongwith Senators Breaux, Jeffords, Snowe and Hatch. A vote is expected later in the day, precludingme from being present at today’s meeting.

I want to make it clear that my priority is to produce a comprehensive trade bill as soon aspossible. It’s been over a decade since the United States has had Trade Promotion Authority. That’stoo long. During that time, our ability to penetrate foreign markets has eroded, as other nations haveengaged in preferential trade agreements to our detriment. Progress in multilateral negotiations,including in the World Trade Organization, is also slowed due to our failure to provide the Presidentwith the credibility he needs at the negotiating table. I don’t intend to stand aside and allow this tocontinue. So, today, I pledge to do everything in my power to see this conference completedsuccessfully and quickly. The issue is too important to our economy to play games. It’s time to getthis done.