Trade is one of the centerpieces of Rep. Richard A. Gephardt's presidential campaign, but his trade retaliation amendment may be scuttled from a House-passed trade measure in an effort to save the overall bill, congressional leaders say.
But lawmakers suggest that as a courtesy to the Missouri congressman, the conferees will wait until after the March 8 Super Tuesday primary elections before formally abandoning the proposal.
"The Gephardt provision will be dropped. We're going to dump it because it's bad policy," said Rep. Sam Gibbons, (D-Fla.), chairman of the trade subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee and a member of the House-Senate conference committee hammering out a compromise trade bill.
The Gephardt plan calls for trade retaliation against Japan and other trading partners that maintain large trade surpluses with the United States. The omnibus trade legislation it is attached to has languished in Congress since last fall.