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Hearing of the Senate Finance Committee - Urging Approval of Five Tax Court, Trade Nominees

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President Woodrow Wilson once said, "There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed."

Today, we consider the nominations of five devoted public servants who will work for the common good.

Four of you have been asked to help move our nation's trade agenda. By moving this agenda, we will open foreign markets to American products and boost our economy, but we must do so in a manner that puts American jobs first. That is why it is time to swiftly pass the bipartisan Trade Adjustment Assistance deal and our pending Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea, and that is why it is time to renew our expired trade preference programs.

Ambassadors Punke and Siddiqui, you know the task ahead. You were both voted unanimously out of the Finance Committee last year. You have served admirably as recess appointments and have been nominated again. You both must continue to fight for American workers, entrepreneurs, ranchers and farmers so that they can help the economy grow and create jobs.

Ambassador Punke, you have been nominated to be the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and Ambassador to the World Trade Organization, or WTO. We Montanans know that you have the courage, intelligence and creativity to meet this challenge.

The WTO is the primary tool through which we can open fast-growing international markets, including China, India and Brazil. Accessing these markets will grow our exports and increase jobs, but once these countries open their doors, you must prevent them from building new barriers to block trade.

Ambassador Siddiqui, you have been nominated to be Chief Agricultural Negotiator at USTR. America produces some of the world's best agricultural products, including the top-quality beef and wheat produced in my home state of Montana, but some countries erect unscientific barriers to our agricultural exports. You must do everything in your power to remove those barriers. You must push our trading partners to adhere to internationally-accepted scientific standards.

Mr. Piquado, you have been nominated to be the Assistant Secretary for Import Administration at the Department of Commerce. You will be tasked with enforcing our nation's antidumping and countervailing duty laws. These laws help safeguard U.S. jobs and commerce by stemming unfairly-traded imports. You also will be responsible for monitoring trade in key sectors, including lumber, steel and textiles.

Mr. Johanson, you have been nominated to be a Commissioner at the United States International Trade Commission, or ITC. This comes after many years of work here on the Finance Committee. Your years of service with this Committee will serve you well in your new role.

If confirmed, I know you will enforce U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty laws fairly and objectively, so that our manufacturers and workers can compete here at home. And I know you will enforce U.S. intellectual property rights, which is critical to innovative American companies.

Judge Gale, you have been nominated to serve a second term on the United States Tax Court. You will draw on your experience to ensure that U.S. tax laws are applied fairly and consistently.

President Clinton first nominated you based on your expertise and the reputation you earned as the Finance Committee's Chief Tax Counsel and Staff Director. President Obama nominated you for a second term based on your performance on the court and the reputation you have earned from your peers.

Once confirmed, I am confident each of you will be successful in the positions in which you will serve. I know you will work toward the common good. And I am sure your service to your country and your fellow Americans will represent us honorably around the globe, help our economy grow, create jobs and ensure justice here at home.


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