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Congressmen Pledge to Attempt Textile Veto Override in August

December 19, 1985|ROBERT A. ROSENBLATT | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Angered by President Reagan's veto, congressional backers of a bill to roll back imports of textiles and shoes voiced defiance of the White House Wednesday and pledged to try to override the veto next August, when impending elections will exert the maximum pressure on lawmakers

"Congress has lost the battle but not the war," Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) vowed at a news conference. And Rep. Butler Derrick (D-S.C.) said that concern over the loss of American jobs to imports will be used "as leverage as we get closer to the 1986 elections."

The bill's sponsors in both parties admitted that they currently cannot muster the two-thirds majority needed in each chamber of Congress to enact the bill into law over the President's veto.

August Vote Scheduled

But they have scheduled a vote in the House for Aug. 6, "when members who have not seen fit to join the cause will have a chance to rethink their position," said Rep. Ed Jenkins (D-Ga.), the measure's chief sponsor in the House.

Jenkins was miffed by the veto because he supported the White House in voting for tax overhaul legislation, Reagan's No. 1 domestic priority. "I gave one to the Gipper, but he didn't give one to me," he said, referring to the President's famous movie role as Notre Dame football player George Gipp.

The Senate has not yet set a date for a veto override attempt, but Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.) said that Reagan will be watched over the next several months as if "under a microscope" to see if he helps the domestic textile and apparel industries. Without strong White House action, "there will be enough votes to override," Heinz predicted.

A deadline of July 31 has been set for the United States to renegotiate its international textile trading agreements, and domestic producers are hoping that the Administration will take steps to slow the torrent of foreign clothing and textiles, which have captured up to 45% of retail sales, according to industry estimates.

Limiting Imports

The vetoed bill would reduce by 30% textile and apparel imports from the big suppliers, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. Shoe imports would be limited to 60% of the U.S. market for non-rubber footwear, compared to the current share of 75%.

Thus, by Aug. 6, the textile talks will be completed, and Congress will know whether the Administration has helped the domestic industry, said Carlos Moore, executive vice president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute.

"We've had promises before, so we're going to hold this veto in abeyance," said Rep. Carroll A. Campbell Jr. (R-S.C.). "This is a strategic move," Campbell said, to determine if Reagan and his advisers, in claiming that they will help the industry, "mean business or not."

Administration officials, who were successful in persuading some of the textile bill's original sponsors to defect, are cautiously optimistic that they can uphold the veto, even during the politically charged election season.

In another trade development, Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) introduced the Administration's bill to repeal the unitary taxes that seven states, including California, levy against international corporations.

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