Hatch Statement at Senate Finance Committee Hearing Considering Several Executive Branch Nominations
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, today delivered the following remarks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing considering the nominations of Joseph H. Gale, Michael W. Punke, Islam A. Siddiqui, Paul Piquado, and David S. Johanson:
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I welcome the opportunity today to hear from our trade and tax nominees in this open forum. I appreciate their presence here today as well as their willingness to serve.
I extend a special welcome to Judge Gale and David Johanson. Judge Gale has served as a tax court judge since 1996 and, before that, as Chief Tax Counsel of this Committee.
David Johanson has been nominated to be a member of the United States International Trade Commission. David, I see you’ve brought your family, and I’m proud to welcome them to this hearing. I especially want to thank your parents for coming in from Texas and your wife and children for supporting you through all the long nights, weekends and holidays you’ve spent away from them during your government service. Mr. Johanson has served the Committee for many years, first under the leadership of Senator Grassley and now under my tenure as ranking member. David, we appreciate your eight years of distinguished service to this Committee and wish you well in your new endeavors.
We have accomplished a lot in those eight years. Under President Bush we renewed trade promotion authority and worked together to pass trade agreements with 14 countries, providing a significant boost to the U.S. economy. We also used that trade promotion authority to negotiate our pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Unfortunately, we are still waiting on President Obama to submit these agreements to Congress for a vote. The President’s own statistics say that these agreements will create 250,000 new jobs. With an unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, I simply cannot understand the President’s continued delay. I am confident that, once the President submits these agreements, they will pass Congress with broad bipartisan support.
There are a number of other vexing trade problems our nominees will continue to grapple with. The Doha Round of negotiations appear to be on the cusp of total failure. China continues to pursue policies that boost its growth at our expense. And, other countries around the world continue to negotiate trade agreements that exclude the United States, putting U.S. exporters at a serious disadvantage.
The President’s response is to set a goal to double exports over five years. I appreciate the goal. But everyone knows that a goal without a plan is nothing more than false hope. In order to succeed you need a solid plan and the right tools to make that plan a success. That is why the President’s timid interest in renewal of Trade Promotion Authority troubles me.
History shows that trade agreements boost exports. In 2010 trade with our FTA partners totaled 1 trillion dollars, or more than one-third of the US merchandise trade with the world, according to the International Trade Commission. The Commission also reported a merchandise trade surplus with more than half of our FTA partners while continuing to report a deficit with our non-FTA partners.
The President has filled this trade vacuum by latching onto negotiations to create a Trans-Pacific Partnership. Again, I appreciate this laudable goal. But I simply can’t understand how the President, and by extension the United States, will achieve its goal of concluding the TPP agreement without Trade Promotion Authority. The President’s lack of commitment to a vigorous market-opening trade agenda is not only disappointing; it continues to hold our workers and economy back from reaching their highest potential.
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I look forward to hearing from our nominees.
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