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Sen. Bayh puts hold on U.S. trade representative nominee

Sen. Bayh puts hold on U.S. trade representative nominee

   U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., has placed a hold on President Bush’s U.S. trade representative nomination until Senate leaders schedule a vote on legislation that would allow the Commerce Department to apply antisubsidy laws to non-market economies such as China.

   “I decided to take this step because I cannot sit idly by while American workers and companies continue to be victimized by foreign countries who violate our trade agreements with impunity,” Bayh said in a statement Tuesday.

   “Everyday American workers get up in the morning and already have one hand tied behind their backs because of illegal Chinese subsidies,” he added. “Yet, the administration and the Republican leadership refuse to take any action.”

   Bush recently nominated Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to serve as the country’s next U.S. trade representative. If confirmed, Portman will replace former USTR chief Robert Zoellick.

   Bayh is cosponsor of the so-called “Stopping Overseas Subsidies” (SOS) bill. The legislation was written as an answer to a 1986 federal court decision that the Commerce Department says prevents it from applying antisubsidy laws to non-market economies.

   The SOS legislation has been endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers and a bipartisan group of more than 50 lawmakers in both the House and Senate. Other chief sponsors include Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Reps. Phil English, R-Pa., and Artur Davis, D-Ala.

   “I don’t oppose Congressman Portman,” Bayh said. “He is qualified for the job, and if a vote is allowed on my legislation, I look forward to voting to confirm him for this important position.”

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