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THE NEW WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION--A RISK TO SOVEREIGNTY AND POWERS OF THE SENATE
Mr. PRESSLER. Mr. President, the Thurmond amendment deserves serious consideration by the Senate. The amendment addresses major concerns about the new GATT agreement soon to be addressed by the Senate. The amendment is simple and straightforward.
First, it expresses the sense of the Senate that a joint Senate-administration commission be convened to decide whether the proposed World Trade Organization should be considered as a treaty and not as an Executive agreement.
Second, the amendment calls for a period of time, prior to introduction of the implementing legislation, for further congressional hearings, both in and outside of Washington to consider the full ramifications of the United States joining the World Trade Organization.
The process being taken by the administration has brought a new meaning to the phrase `fast-track.' Fast-track authority permits implementing legislation to be considered and voted on without amendment. This should not mean pushing through legislation without full and deliberate consideration.
The new trade agreement is a massive document. It was just signed on April 15 of this year. The Finance Committee will begin its trial markup of implementing legislation next week. I understand that the committee hopes to conclude its consideration by the end of next week.
One thing is certain. We can learn from history. History has taught us that free trade brings stronger economic growth. I am a free trader.
The last time this body considered GATT was in 1947, when it was created. At that time, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were created to address international developmental and monetary problems. An International Trade Organization [ITO] was proposed to regulate trade relations among countries. However, the ITO encountered opposition in the Senate. The issue? Sovereignty. As a result, the proposed ITO failed to win enough votes for ratification.
As CBO reported in 1987, `As a weak substitute for the envisioned ITO, a GATT
Secretariat, with a very small staff, was created to oversee the General Agreement and to manage multilateral trade negotiations.'
Well, the ITO proposal has resurfaced. It is now called the WTO . The new GATT agreement creates a new World Trade Organization that differs from the old GATT. The WTO is not a weak version of the ITO, but a new version of it.
Under the old GATT, the United States had a veto. We could block a panel decision and we would not face retaliation. Under the WTO , the process is automatic. Panels are established, decisions are made and the United States has no veto.
Mr. President, the risks that the WTO pose to sovereignty and to the constitutional role of the Senate are real. These risks must be fully addressed. That is why my colleagues and I felt it was important to offer this amendment today. Time is running out.
The full consequences of this agreement are just beginning to come to light. Recently, I have raised concerns over the proposed World Trade Organization [WTO ] created under the new agreement. I have addressed these concerns on the floor and at two hearings held by the Foreign Relations Committee and the Commerce Committee.
Many questions and concerns about the WTO are being raised. Unfortunately, there appear to be more questions than answers.
For example, what impact will this organization have on Federal, State and local laws? What will be its budget? How many taxpayer dollars will be spent on the WTO ? To whom will the WTO , with its unelected bureaucrats, answer? I do not think these questions have been answered adequately.
Another concern is whether or not the creation of the WTO should be considered as a treaty. There is a possibility the new WTO could threaten the constitutional role of the U.S. Senate.
I am not certain the WTO could be fixed. If submitted as part of the implementing legislation, it would not be subject amendment. The best option may be to drop the proposed WTO from the implementing legislation and deal with it separately. This option needs careful consideration.
Mr. President, before I discuss the issue of sovereignty, let me explain why I believe the WTO should be considered by the Senate as a treaty--not as an executive agreement.
There are four ways an international agreement can become the law of the United States.
First, if it is accompanied by the advice and consent of the Senate--a treaty;
Second, if it is authorized or approved by Congress and the matter falls with the constitutional authority of Congress--a congressional-executive agreement;
Third, if it is authorized by a prior treaty which received the advice and consent of the Senate--an executive agreement pursuant to treaty; or
Fourth, it is based on the President's own constitutional authority--a sole executive agreement.
It is clear that past GATT agreements fall under No. 2--congressional-executive agreements. These agreements call for lowering tariffs and quotas, and expanding trade. However, I question whether Congress intended or authorized the creation of the WTO .
Under international law, an international agreement is generally considered to be a treaty and binding on the parties if it meets four criteria:
First, the parties intend the agreement to be legally binding and the agreement is subject to international law;
Second, the agreement deals with significant matters;
Third, the agreement clearly and specifically describes the legal obligations of the parties; and
Fourth, the form indicates an intention to conclude a treaty, although the substance of the agreement rather than the form is the governing factor.
Mr. President, international agreements and treaties have been used interchangeably in recent years. I do not question that the trade agreements under the Uruguay round should be treated as agreements. However, the creation of the WTO is a different matter.
Let's look at Senate precedents. In 1947, the Senate Finance Committee debated this issue when considering the International Trade Organizations [ITO]. At that time, the
chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee was Senator Eugene D. Millikin. He suggested the following test for determining whether a treaty should be submitted to the Senate for two-thirds approval:
The proper distinction is that when we go beyond conventional matters (duties, custom matters and foreign trade), and commence to surrender sovereignty, this is the point where the proper field of treaty comes in. Whenever you come to a matter where there is substantial disparagement of our sovereignty, whenever you come to a matter where sanctions may be invoked against the United States, by an international body, then you have probably entered the legitimate field for treaties.
I warn my colleagues. The vote on the GATT implementing legislation, which creates the WTO , is expected to be considered by the Senate as an Executive agreement. Passage will only require a simple majority.
I believe it is abundantly clear. The creation of the World Trade Organization was not anticipated when the Uruguay round negotiations began. It has been reported that the proposed WTO was pushed through in the eleventh hour of the negotiations.
Whether or not the United States joins the WTO should be considered apart from legislation implementing the final texts of the GATT Uruguay Round Agreements.
Mr. President, proponents of the WTO will argue that there is no difference between the existing GATT structure and the WTO . Proponents will argue that the WTO will not be able to coerce the United States into any decisions on trade matters. They will argue that there's little or no difference between trade dispute settlements under the current GATT agreement and the WTO . It's sort of like shopping for a used car. You hear all the great things about the WTO , but little about its flaws. I am not quite ready to buy all the arguments in favor of the WTO .
United States negotiations in the Uruguay round improved the GATT by including goods and services and reducing nontariff trade barriers. For the first time agriculture is included under the agreement. Proponents of the WTO will say the new organization is needed to ensure that these gains are not lost in dispute settlements.
Mr. President, I hear those arguments. What I do not hear is that United States intended to create and promote the creation of the WTO .
All too often, issues are rushed through this body without full consideration. It is these 11th hour deals that all too often get us into trouble. I fear that is what is happening with the WTO .
Mr. THURMOND. I yield to Senator Byrd.
Mr. BYRD. If the Senator would, I will probably take about 3 minutes.
Mr. THURMOND. I will be glad to, without losing the floor, Mr. President.
Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, I thank the distinguished Senator.
Mr. President, I rise in support of the policy expressed in the amendment by the distinguished Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Thurmond]. It is an issue about which I feel rather strongly, but I also sympathize with the distinguished manager of bill, Mr. Leahy, and his sentiments that this is not the right place for the amendment. The foreign aid bill is not the place to debate trade policy, and it is difficult enough for us to consider this annual legislation without major debates on extraneous matters.
I understand that the distinguished Senator from South Carolina will withdraw his amendment shortly. He has not said so, but I understand he will. And I think, all concerns considered, that would probably be the best thing. I hope that he will.
But the amendment is nevertheless before the body now, and I strongly support it. The Constitution reserves powers over international economic matters exclusively to the Congress. This is not a shared power with the executive branch. Article I, section 8 says that the Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations.
In recent years, there have been attempts to tippy-toe around this constitutional provision by using a mechanism allowing the executive branch to seek legislative authority from Congress to negotiate trade agreements with other nations that it structures as executive agreements. The executive branch then receives an additional advantage through procedures included in the authorizing legislation known as `fast track.' This is a device which denies the Congress the opportunity to amend the agreement, and then forces the Congress to vote up or down within a limited time period. We do not even have the luxury of amending the agreement, which in the case of a treaty we would be able to amend.
First, I agree that the weight of the agreement reached in the case of the Uruguay round is such that it rises to the importance of a treaty and should be treated as a treaty.
Second, the long-term implications of the Uruguay round are such that the Senate should have full and unrestricted debate--unrestricted debate--with the opportunity for the Senate to work its will in this most vital arena of foreign policy, the economic relations we have with the rest of the world. The fact is that there should be no rush to pass legislation implementing this agreement this year. We need time to discuss it at length.
The Congress could wait until next year, next spring, after a full investigation of the ramifications of this agreement. In any case, implementing legislation is not needed until July of next year.
The Senator from South Carolina states in his amendment that the implementing legislation did not address the question of establishing a supernational adjudicatory mechanism which was incorporated in the Uruguay round of the World Trade Organization. The mechanism could make decisions which could profoundly, profoundly affect U.S. domestic law.
Considerable investigation needs to be done on this matter by this body. There are many other concerns which Members in both Houses have raised in respect to this extensive and far-reaching agreement. So let us not rush it. I think the agreement should be considered as a treaty. In any event, it should be amendable. That may be inconvenient for the other signatories to the treaty but American national interests are at stake. This is a massive trade document and has not been scrutinized by the Senate in any meaningful manner.
Therefore, I support the amendment of the Senator from South Carolina. I appreciate his offering it. I congratulate him on offering the amendment. I am glad to have an opportunity to say these few words in support of the amendment.
I hope, now that we have had an opportunity to speak at least briefly on the subject, the Senator will withdraw the amendment as it is a sense-of-the-Senate amendment and it is attached to an appropriations bill. In that respect, I hope the wishes of the Senator from Vermont [Mr. Leahy] will be followed.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Carolina retains the floor.
Mr. THURMOND. Mr. President, I am pleased we have received assurances from the Senator from Montana, who is chairman of the trade subcommittee, that the issues we have raised today will be addressed next week when the Finance Committee meets to mark up the Uruguay round implementing bill. This is one Senator who will be very interested in whether these issues have been adequately addressed. In fact, we should be given adequate time to review the proposed legislation before it is submitted to the President.
Now, Mr. President, I wish to say again that what we are trying to do is just not rush this matter. It is a matter of tremendous importance. It involves the very sovereignty of our country. It is just to give time to the executive branch and legislative branch to get together and study this matter carefully and inform the Senate what impact it is going to have on our country and just how it is going to affect the sovereignty of our country.
In view of the situation now and out of my great respect for the able chairman of the Appropriations Committee and what he said, that he thinks it would be better not to put it on this legislation, I will withdraw the amendment at this time.
Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, I thank the distinguished Senator.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the amendment offered by the Senator from South Carolina is withdrawn.
The amendment (No. 2239) was withdrawn.
Mr. McCONNELL addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair recognizes the Senator from Kentucky Mr. [McConnell].
AMENDMENT NO. 2240 TO THE FIRST EXCEPTED COMMITTEE AMENDMENT ON PAGE 2
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I send an amendment to the desk on behalf of myself, Senator McCain, Senator D'Amato, Senator Dole, and Senator Helms. It is an amendment to the committee amendment on page 2.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the amendment.
The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:
The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. McConnell], for himself, Mr. McCain, Mr. D'Amato, Mr. Dole, and Mr. Helms, proposes an amendment numbered 2240 to the first excepted committee amendment on page 2.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that reading of the amendment be dispensed with.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The amendment is as follows:
At the end of the committee amendment on page 2, odd the following:
`Sec. . (a) Restriction: None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be obligated for assistance for the Government of Russia after August 31, 1994 unless all armed forced of Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States have been removed from all Baltic countries or that the status of those armed forces have been otherwise resolved by mutual agreement of the parties.
`(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to assistance that involves the provision of student exchange programs, food, clothing, medicine or other humanitarian assistance or to housing assistance for officers of the armed forces of Russia or the Commonwealth of Independent States who are removed from the territory of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, or countries other than Russia.
`(c) Subsection (a) does not apply if after August 31, 1994, the President determines that the provision of funds to the Government of Russia is in the national security interest.
`(d) Section 568 of this Act is null and void.'
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, since declaring their independence, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have been dedicated to assuring that Russian troops are fully and promptly withdrawn from their sovereign territory. There is, as we can all imagine, no more provocative symbol of 50 years of Soviet occupation than the continued presence of these troops. To expedite that process, last year Congress earmarked $190 million specifically for troop withdrawal including through support for an officer resettlement program and technical assistance for the housing sector.
Now, Mr. President, in spite of that directive and an extensive legislative history which made clear this commitment was designed to remove the Russians from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, the administration decided to use only 50 percent of the designated funding for Baltic troop resettlement and the balance for other Russian troops.
Now, Mr. President, in spite of undercutting congressional intent, progress has been made, I am happy to report. Three years ago, when these nations declared their independence, they were occupied by more than 100,000 Soviet troops--just 3 years ago, 100,000 Soviet troops. Obviously, comparatively speaking, the situation is a good deal better.
All troops are now out of Lithuania, with 4,500 remaining in Latvia, and 2,500 remaining in Estonia. But that remaining 7 percent is still a problem. Like the citizens of Latvia and Estonia, I welcome the President's public comment in Riga last week that the United States was committed to seeing the withdrawal remain on track with all troops out by August 31 of this year, 1994. This was a target date. It is interesting to note this is the target date that President Yeltsin originally offered last year and all the parties agreed to honor. So this was a date picked by the Russians.
While in Riga, the President also offered more financial support to secure that goal. Again, I commend the President for his observation. But many of us have a nagging feeling irritated by the past year with administration compromises and concessions to the Russians that, unless held accountable in legislation, August 31 will come and go and Russian troops will continue to occupy Estonia and Latvia.
Mr. President, my concern about the President's predilection to capitulate is exacerbated by the Russian's seeming reluctance to honor the deadline. We have an example of this very recently. As Warner Wolf used to say when he was around here, and may still say, `Let us go to the videotape.'
On July 11, just this week, standing at Boris Yeltsin's side, President Clinton announced the following. These are the President's words 2 days ago:
There has been a promising development in the Baltics. After my very good discussion with the President of Estonia, Mr. Meri, passed on his ideas to President Yeltsin. I believe the differences between the two countries have been announced and then agreement can be reached in the near future so that the troops would be able to be withdrawn by the end of August.
Two days ago the President was talking about the end of August this year. The President said:
When the Russian troops withdraw from Germany and the Baltics, it will end the bitter legacy of the Second World War.
Bear in mind 2 days ago President Yeltsin was standing right beside President Clinton when he said that. President Yeltsin was immediately asked by a reporter:
Will you have all of the Russian troops out of the Baltics by August 31?
This is just 2 days ago standing by President Clinton, President Yeltsin was asked the question.
The answer by President Yeltsin, a direct quote: `No.' `Nice question', says President Yeltsin. `I like the question because I can say no.'
So here we had 2 days ago a joint press conference with President Clinton and President Yeltsin standing side by side, and asked the question, `Will the Russian troops be out of the Baltics by August 31?' President Clinton says `yes,' and President Yeltsin says `no.'
Obviously, there is some confusion here about whether or not the August 31 deadline is going to be--originally suggested by the Russians, I repeat. August 31, 1994, was originally suggested by the Russians as the deadline for having all Russian troops out of the Baltics. Yet 2 days ago Yeltsin says, `I don't think we can make it.'
I want to just repeat that this was the Russian's selection of this date last year. Even though they preferred a more immediate departure, when this came up last year reluctantly Estonia and Latvia accepted the target of August 31 of this year.
A full year later, a full 2 years after committing in the Helsinki summit to an early, orderly, and complete withdrawal of foreign military troops from the territories of the Baltic States, Russia is stalling again. On July 11, just a couple of days ago, Yeltsin publicly and flatly rejected his self-imposed obligation to withdraw the troops.
Madam President, this Russian reality check stands in stark contrast to the administration's sort of Disney vision about this. It is animated, it is colorful, but it is a total fantasy. There is no more clear representation of the yawning gap between reality and the administration's policy than statements made by the Secretary of State over the past 10 months.
As we are all aware, one of the significant sticking points in troop withdrawal negotiations has been how ethnic Russians will be treated. Last autumn at the ministerial meetings of the CSCE and again before the Foreign Operations Subcommittee in March, Secretary Christopher declared that Russia's intention to protect 25 million Russians living in the so-called near abroad was understandable and legitimate. This is the Secretary of State before the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations saying the Russian concern about the 25 million Russians living in the near abroad was understandable and legitimate. Before the subcommittee he added that these Russians should be treated with generosity.
Needless to say, the sovereign sensibilities of many nations which suffered Soviet occupation were deeply offended. Like other nations, the Baltics struggled to maintain their language and their culture in defiance of the Soviet regime's calculated plans of reunification. Thousands of Balts were exiled to Siberia, or worse, and Russians dispatched military and civilians alike to establish control.
History offers a window on the current skepticism. Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians share with their neighbors Russia's not past ambitions but current ambitions. But there are also ongoing serious issues which cause any observer to question Moscow's intentions.
In addition to protecting minority rights, Russia continues to insist that they are guaranteed access to military installations and bases. In April, during a round of discussions with Estonia, Russia linked further progress to payment of $23 million by Estonia to Russia. In late June, this threat was repeated in conjunction with the unilateral demarcation of the Russia-Estonia border, a declaration I might add that was viewed with considerable alarm in Talinn.
In a similar vein, Latvia has found troop withdrawal subject to Russian access to radar facilities and military bases as well as offering social guarantees to Russians who reside in Latvia.
I understand the administration is attempting to balance a number of issues in a multilateral context, and is extremely sensitive to Russian concerns. But the combination of statements by the Secretary of State, and positions taken by the Russians in negotiations, cause me concern about the firmness of the August 31 withdrawal commitment.
At the moment, the bill before the Senate, the bill we are debating, bans funds from Russia after December 31, 1994, if all troops have not been withdrawn or a mutual agreement on removal has not been reached.
The amendment at the desk, the amendment we are discussing at the moment, simply changes the date to August 31, I repeat a date originally chosen by President Yeltsin and the Russians as a date by which they would have all of the troops out of the Baltics. Just last week in Riga, the President reconfirmed his commitment to that date, a commitment shared by many here in Congress.
I see no reason why legislation should undercut or postpone prospects for meeting that deadline. For more than 35 years, the Baltic nations have suffered Soviet occupation. I do not think that Congress should postpone the end of that era 1 more minute let alone 4 more months. Last year, Congress tried to provide the necessary financial incentive for withdrawal by supporting housing for withdrawn troops. I supported that. The administration decided to use only half the dedicated funds for troops from the Baltics. I hope my colleagues will join in sending a clear signal that halfhearted attempts are no longer sufficient. We expect Russia to comply with its obligations, and we look forward to September 1.
In Estonia, President Meri's words of September 1 represents the first day of a new Europe, a day when the Baltics are truly free.
Let me just quickly summarize what this amendment does. It simply moves the withdrawal date from the end of this year back to August 31, the date originally set over a year ago by President Yeltsin himself.
It simply moves that date forward to the expressed intention of President Yeltsin a year ago. I think this will be extremely reassuring to those in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. In addition to that, there is considerable American interest that this date be met.
(Mrs. BOXER assumed the chair.)
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