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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | Countywide

Gallegly Supports China Trade Bill

May 25, 2000|COLL METCALFE

Rep. Elton Gallegly broke his silence Wednesday on the controversial China trade bill, voting with the majority to support normalizing trade with the Asian giant.

The Simi Valley Republican, who was criticized by some Ventura County farmers and his Democratic opponent in the upcoming fall election for remaining undecided, said silence is his legislative style and that it might have helped win a number of important amendments.

"I wouldn't say that I've been indecisive on the issue," Gallegly said. "What I have been is active behind the scenes to get those things that I wanted, and remaining undecided helps me get what I want and what I believe is best for the country and my constituency."

The congressman said that while he supported increased trade with China and the potential economic windfall that could result, he had a number of concerns that needed to be addressed in the bill.

Gallegly wanted the bill to include mechanisms to ensure that China was meeting its obligation to reduce tariffs and open its markets to U.S. products. He also wanted the United States to remain vigilant in monitoring China's human rights record.

The final draft of the bill, which the House approved 237 to 197, included commissions established to do those things, which Gallegly said were the factors that won him over.

"If those provisions had been left out of the bill, I would not have voted for it," he said. "As it is, we've got a good piece of legislation whose potential is beyond most people's comprehension."

If the bill wins approval as expected next month in the Senate, it could translate into a big boost for the county's citrus industry.

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