On Becerra for U.S. Trade Representative

By December 3, 2008Trade

BusinessWeek, “Obama Said To Pick Xavier Becerra for US Trade Rep

Is another key economic post about to be filled by President-Elect Barack Obama? Even as he called a Chicago press conference to announce the expected nomination of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to head the Commerce Department this morning, Washington was filled with talk that he has settled on a little-known California Congressman to be US Trade Representative. Congressional Quarterly reported that Obama has asked Xavier Becerra , who has represented Los Angeles in the House of Representatives for 15 years, to fill the key post. The US Trade Representative is the government’s primary negotiator on trade agreements such as the now stalled Doha Round—aimed at expanding trade in services and other sectors and reforming agricultural subsidies—or pacts such as those set with Columbia and South Korea which are stuck in Congress.

The story cites a number of business and free-market sources concerned about Becerra’s mixed record on trade — anti-CAFTA, anti-trade promotion authority, but pro trade agreements with Peru and Chile. While he voted for NAFTA, he now expresses regrets. We note that Becerra has been moving up on Ways & Means and had leadership aspirations — recently being elected caucus vice-chairman — making party-loyal votes increasingly important.

We collected Rep. Becerra’s votes on NAM Key Votes related to trade since the 106th Congress (1999-2000).

You can read them in the extended below.

UPDATE (6:20 p.m.): From Reuters:

“Looking at his voting record, he’s certainly not a protectionist and he’s certainly not a total free trader,” said Frank Vargo, vice president for international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers.

“If he were selected, I would not see it as a sign the administration is throwing in the towel on trade. I believe he would have an open mind and be pragmatic.”

Vargo said he was convinced Obama and manufacturers share the same goal of expanding trade, despite some differences.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) 


Official NAM 110th Congress House Voting Record
Description Preferred Position Compared with NAM preferred position
U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. Vote on legislation implementing the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. Approved 285-132 on Nov. 8, 2007 (Roll No. 1060). Signed into law (P.L. 110-138) on Dec. 14, 2007. The NAM supported the Agreement, which would eliminate nearly all of Peru’s tariffs on U.S. goods, increase protection of American investments, strengthen U.S. intellectual property rights and reduce non-tariff and regulatory barriers in Peru. NAM POSITION: Yes.  Y Plus
Delaying Vote on U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement. Vote on H.Res. 1102, a resolution removing the U.S.- Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement from expedited “fast track” floor consideration as required under U.S. trade law. Approved 224-195 on April 10, 2008 (Roll No. 181). The NAM opposed the resolution, arguing that removing the 90-day timetable for action would prevent timely and fair consideration of the Agreement and could undermine the ability of the United States to enter or complete future trade agreements. NAM POSITION: No.  N Minus
NAM’s Official 109th Congress Voting Record (House)  
Withdrawing U.S. Membership in the World Trade Organization (H.J. Res. 27) Vote on H..J. Res. 27, a resolution to withdraw the approval of the United States from the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization. Rejected 338-86 (with 1 voting “present”) on June 9, 2005 (Roll No. 239). The NAM opposed the resolution, noting that the United States, as the world’s largest trading nation, needs the rules-based trading system in order to continue leveling the playing field and obtaining the gains from trade for the United States and the rest of the world. NAM POSITION: No.  N Plus
United States Trade Rights Enforcement Act (H.R. 3283) Vote on the U.S. Trade Rights Enforcement Act. Approved 255-168 on July 27, 2005 (Roll No. 437). The NAM supported H.R. 3283, which would help protect and enforce U.S. trade rules that are established through free trade agreements and the World Trade Organization. It specifically authorizes the application of U.S. countervailing duty (CVD) law to exports from non-market economies, such as China, and would establish a system of comprehensive monitoring of Chinese compliance with its trade obligations on intellectual property rights and market access. NAM POSITION: Yes.  Y Minus
CAFTA-DR: Central America- Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (H.R. 3045) Vote on legislation that would implement the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) into U.S. law. Approved 217-215 on July 27, 2005 (Roll No. 443). The NAM supported CAFTA-DR, which is likely to result in $1 billion per year in increased U.S. manufactured exports and more U.S. jobs. Signed into law on August 2, 2005 (P.L. 109-53). NAM POSITION: Yes.  Y Minus
U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement (H.R. 5684). Vote on H.R. 5684, legislation implementing the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement. Approved 221-205 on July 20, 2006 (Roll No. 392). The NAM supported the bill and the FTA, which would require all U.S.-made consumer and industrial products to enter Oman duty-free, gaining even greater market share for U.S. manufacturers. NAM POSITION: Yes.  Y Minus
NAM’s Official 108th Congress Voting Record (House)  
U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. Vote on H.R. 2739, legislation implementing the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. Approved 272-155 on July 24, 2003 (Roll No. 432). NAM members supported the accord, which sets a valuable precedent for future FTAs with the developing countries of Southeast Asia, where U.S. manufactured exports face average bound tariff rates of 30 percent. Signed into law (P.L. 108-78) on Sept. 3, 2003. NAM POSITION: Yes.  Y Plus
 U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement. Vote on H.R. 2738, legislation implementing the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement. Approved 270-156 on July 24, 2003 (Roll No. 436). The NAM supported the accord, which eliminates nearly all tariffs on U.S. manufactured exports upon implementation and provides the framework for a successful Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) accord. Signed into law (P.L. 108-77) on Sept. 3, 2003. NAM POSITION: Yes.  Y Plus
United States-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Vote on H.R. 4579, legislation that would implement the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement into U.S. law. Approved 314-109 on July 14, 2004 (Roll No. 375). The NAM supported the legislation and the FTA, which is likely to result in $1.8 billion per year in increased U.S. manufactured exports and more U.S. jobs. NAM POSITION: Yes.  Y Plus
NAM’s Official 107th Congress Voting Record (House  
Disapproving Normal Trade with China (H.J. Res. 50) Vote on a resolution of disapproval seeking to discontinue normal trade relations (NTR) with China, triggering major tariff increases on Chinese imports and inviting retaliation against U.S. exports to China. Rejected 259-169 on July 19, 2001 (Roll No. 255). NAM POSITION: No.  N Plus
Trade Promotion Authority (H.R. 3005) Vote on H.R. 3005, legislation renewing trade promotion (formerly fast track) authority. Approved 215-214 on December 6, 2001 (Roll No. 481). The NAM supported the legislation, which is critical in prying open foreign export markets and concluding major trade agreements. NAM POSITION: Yes.  Y Minus
Trade Promotion Authority (Conference Report to H.R. 3009) Vote on the conference report to H.R. 3009, which renews Trade Promotion Authority for five years, extends the Andean Trade Preference Act, expands the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, renews Generalized System of Preferences, and more. Approved 215-212 on July 27, 2002 (Roll No. 370). NAM POSITION: Yes.  Y Minus
NAM’s Official 106th Congress Voting Record (House)  
Vote on a “resolution of disapproval” seeking to discontinue China’s normal trade relations (NTR) status, triggering major tariff increases on Chinese imports and inviting retaliation against U.S. exports to China. Rejected 260-170 on July 27, 1999 (Roll No. 338). NAM Position: No.  N Plus
Vote on H.R. 4444, legislation granting permannent normal trade relations (PNTR) to China, significantly reducing tariffs on U.S. exports and opening key new markets to U.S. companies. Approved 237-197 on May 25, 2000 (Roll No. 228). Signed into law (P.L. 106-286) on October 10, 2000. NAM Position: Yes.  Y Plus

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