June 18,2008

Grassley Welcomes Iran Sanctions Vote, Advance of Nominations

Opening Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley
Senate Finance Committee Executive Session
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

First, I want to begin by acknowledging the strong leadership of Senator Smith in addressing theimperative to get tougher with respect to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Senator Smith introduced the IranCounter-Proliferation Act of 2007 over one year ago. The Committee held a hearing on that bill twomonths ago. Today’s markup is a direct outgrowth of those efforts. While I did have some tradeconcerns with the way Senator Smith’s bill was drafted, I’m pleased that working together with theChairman and with Senator Smith, we’ve been able to resolve my concerns. The Chairman’smodification places a strong bill before the Committee. Some of the elements of this bill fall outsidethe jurisdiction of the Finance Committee. I encourage my colleagues to avoid delving into thoseprovisions that are not within our jurisdiction at this markup. Any reconsideration of thoseprovisions is better left to subsequent floor consideration of this important legislation.

Second, I’m pleased to see the Finance Committee take up the nomination of Deanna Tanner Okunto be Deputy United States Trade Representative. Commissioner Okun is eminently qualified forthis position, and I regret that it’s taken so long for us to act on her nomination. Our hearing on hernomination raised some questions about whether section 141(b)(3) of the Trade Act of 1974 servesas an impediment to her nomination. In order to address such concerns, I decided to introduce ajoint resolution to waive application of this statutory provision to Commissioner Okun’s nomination.That resolution is also before the Committee today for a vote. I hope to see the resolution enactedand the nomination confirmed as soon as possible. That’s what we did in 1997, in a bipartisan way,when a similar issue arose in connection with the nomination of Charlene Barshefsky to be theUnited States Trade Representative. I urge my colleagues to support Senate Joint Resolution 38 inaddition to Commissioner Okun’s nomination.

Finally, I want to note my strong support for the other nominees we plan to report out of the FinanceCommittee today. All of them have strong backgrounds that will make them assets to our nation asthey hopefully start in their new jobs in the near future. Once again, I want to express myadmiration of, and gratitude for, Elizabeth Paris, who has been nominated to be a judge on the U.S.Tax Court. Her service to the Senate has been invaluable, and my regret that she will no longer bea member of my staff is tempered by the knowledge that she will be an ideal member of the U.S. TaxCourt. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting Elizabeth’s nomination as well as the othernominations before the Committee today.