The passage of a textile trade bill in the House of Representatives last week was an ominous measure of the mood of protectionism in Congress, even though the vote fell short of the numbers necessary to override a presidential veto.
A coalition of apparel, textile and shoe interests pulled together a total of 263 votes, including 15 California Democrats and Republicans, to place absolute limits on imports--one of the most repressive and counterproductive forms of trade legislation that there is. It was, above all, a measure that ignored broad consumer interests altogether--a fact that constituents of the supporters may want to investigate. The extreme measure is all the more shocking given the extraordinary protections for textile and apparel makers that are already in place.
Fortunately, President Reagan is committed to vetoing the textile legislation. But the vote measures the mood that will make it all the more difficult to win a constructive omnibus trade bill as the House and Senate conference committee meets to write a single bill from the disparate measures already passed by the two houses. And, in the case of the omnibus bill, there is a risk that the President's veto may very well be overridden.