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House OKs Bill Tightening Limits on Textile Imports

September 17, 1987|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — The House sent the Reagan Administration a new signal of its impatience with trade deficits Wednesday, approving a bill to clamp substantially tighter limits on imports of textiles, apparel and shoes.

But the measure fell short of the two-thirds majority required to override an expected presidential veto.

On a 263-156 vote, the House passed the Textile and Apparel Trade Act of 1987, a toned-down version of the textile bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress last year and vetoed by President Reagan. The legislation would limit growth of imported textiles and clothing in 180 product categories to 1% a year above 1986 levels.

The bill would also hold footwear imports to 1986 levels to help the struggling domestic footwear industry. And the bill would affect all countries that sell textiles and footwear to the United States.

The failed 1986 bill would have rolled back textile imports to 1983 levels and proposed import quotas for specific countries--mostly in the Third World and along the Pacific Rim. The House overrode Reagan's veto, but the Senate, then in Republican control, sustained it.

The Administration renewed its veto threat. "If this bill ends up on the President's desk, a veto is inevitable," said U.S. Trade Representative Clayton K. Yeutter, adding that the Administration believes that the industry is healthy and already more protected than other domestic trades.

Rep. Sam Gibbons, (D-Fla.), a leading opponent of the textile bill, said after the vote he was "very pleased" that the outcome was short of the two-thirds needed to override Reagan's veto.

"There's no way they can do it--no way," Gibbons said of override hopes. "I feel like I won. I feel like the (free trade) cause won."

Jack Sheinkman, president of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, issued a statement after the vote praising the House action as a show of "renewed support for American workers" and he urged the Senate to follow suit.

And Robert Laidlaw, president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, said in a statement that the vote "reflects a broad national concern over the increasingly serious textile and apparel import situation."

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