Senate panel approves the nomination in an unanimous vote.
Robert Lighthizer is one step closer to being named U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
In a 26-0 vote, the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday morning officially advanced Lighthizer's nomination. The panel also approved a waiver for Lighthizer to become USTR, which was needed because of a 1995 law that prohibits people who did work for foreign governments from serving in the post. Lighthizer did work on behalf of the Brazilian agriculture agency in the late 1980s, and helped out a colleague with work for a Chinese electronics industry group in 1991.
Despite the delay in his confirmation, Lighthizer's nomination enjoys widespread bipartisan support. He appeared to impress the committee during his confirmation hearing back in March, and Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) both offered praise before the Tuesday vote.
"Mr. Lighthizer has the experience necessary to negotiate high-standard trade agreements that meet the parameters set by Trade Promotion Authority," Hatch said in a statement. "He will play a vital role in increasing American trade around the globe, and I look forward to his nomination being considered by the full Senate."
Here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing, we strongly support Lighthizer's nomination, and we hope that the entire Senate moves quickly to confirm him. There is certainly a lot for him to get to work on, from overseeing the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to playing a key role in other major trade efforts being undertaken by the Trump administration.
And we echo a point made by both Hatch and Wyden during the confirmation hearing: The USTR slot isn't the only key trade position unfilled. For example, there's a vacancy at the International Trade Commission, which oversees important trade cases and is vital to America's trade enforcement efforts.
"These posts are vital to creating and protecting factory jobs," AAM President Scott Paul said in a statement. "Until they're filled, our workers face more job loss due to China's industrial overcapacity and our massive trade deficit."
Confirming Lighthizer will be a good start, and we hope the Senate does so soon.
"Mr. Lighthizer fought to secure anti-dumping and countervailing duties against foreign companies who were violating U.S. trade law and is uniquely qualified to represent America's trade interests," Paul added. "As the administration investigates these issues, his experience is needed to create and enforce policy that levels the playing field for America's workers."