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219. Memorandum From the Deputy Special Representative for Trade Negotiations (McDonald) to the Special Representative for Trade Negotiations (Strauss)1

SUBJECT

  • Congressional Tally on MTN

Our Congressional Liaison Group successfully completed its second full tour of House Members and the first tour of Senate Members at the end of last week. These contacts have been aimed at informing every Member of Congress of the implementing bill and its unique procedures for Congressional consideration, while at the same time trying to record what each Member’s attitude was toward the MTN.

At the time of the introduction of the MTN legislation this week,2 we have a solid majority with us in both Houses, and we seem to be gaining ground steadily with each new series of contacts. Definitive opposition is still light and seemingly unorganized, and our efforts are aimed to keep it that way. As you know, we have enjoyed full support of Frank Moore’s unit for this effort and excellent cooperation from the interagency CL team organized as part of the White House Task Force and led by Michael Rowny.

HOUSE SUMMARY

(A) Numerical Tally: In the House we have now 105 positively with us and 154 leaning for the MTN, giving us a total favorable tally of 259 Members, or approximately 60 percent of the House. This is up from 218 at the completion of our first round of contacts some two weeks ago. The total gain came in the positive support column.

At the same time, we still have 145 in the middle ground categories of “No Information” or “Neutral.” As for opposition, only five House Members are listed as definitively opposed to the MTN, and 17 currently are leaning against us.

A third tour of contacts by the Congressional Liaison Group will start later this week immediately following the introduction of the leg[Page 630]islation. We will make sure the Members have copies of the legislation, an editorial support list of periodicals that is overwhelmingly favorable, and an endorsement list of organizations that should provide the uncommitted with considerable political cover. We intend to follow up the third tour with a final, fourth round crammed into the three or four days just before the House vote is scheduled.

(B) Tally by Committee: At the completion of the first tour, we had two very weak committees in terms of response (Aging, and Interstate and Foreign Commerce) and one leaning negative (the Small Business Committee). In our second tour, the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee came over solidly to us, but we still have to do more work with the Small Business group. To remove some of their questions, we are preparing draft letters from you to each of these committee members reiterating the special steps we have taken to eliminate small business from the government procurement code provisions.3 This should give us a further boost with that group who may not be thoroughly informed yet or who have lingering doubts from the earlier discussions and exaggerated newspaper reports.

(C) Tally by Geographical Area: Both the southeast and the northeast seem to have improved somewhat in the latest tally. The midwest lingers somewhat behind now and requires our closest attention. By state, Pennsylvania is our most difficult one, followed by Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Special efforts by Administration CL officers and our outreach groups are being made particularly aimed at these four states. Pennsylvania may remain a problem to the end, but we should clearly have the other three thoroughly with us.

(D) Tally by Issues: Steel and textiles are still the only two issues that repeatedly come up. Now that the specialty steel decision has been handed down and the unilateral action taken on textiles with China,4 we should be in position to swing over a number of House Members from these caucuses to the positive side. On the second tour, we had 37 House Members still expressing MTN reservations because of steel concerns and 14 on textiles. Letters indicating industry endorsements will be circulated to each of these individuals.5

SENATE SITUATION

The first tour of contacts on the Senate side produced a better result than we had expected. Based strictly on the hearings and personal [Page 631]contacts that have taken place so far, the Senatorial group definitely supporting the MTN numbers 18, with 39 other Senators leaning favorably. This gives us a total of 57 out of initial count of only 81 that were directly contacted. This means more than a two-thirds majority, while some 14 Senators are neutral among the 81 we have already seen.

Opposition is extremely slim, with only one opposed (Melcher from Montana, largely complaining about not getting a better deal still on beef and the EC not renouncing the CAP). Two Senators are leaning against (Cohen of Maine because of the general economic malaise and poor economic outlook for his state, and DeConcini of Arizona, for no stated reason). On the next Senate tour, we will be seeing each of these three individuals plus the 14 neutrals as well as those not yet recorded on the first round.

SUPPLEMENTARY CONTACT EFFORTS

In addition to the Administration task force team of Congressional liaison officers, we are supplementing our effort on a systematic basis with a combined private sector team. Representatives from ECAT, NAM, the Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters are all pursuing detailed plans to recruit Congressional support for the agreements. They are being further supplemented on a more specialized basis by a variety of supporting organizations both from business and agriculture.

Finally, all Members of Congress should be hearing regularly from positive-minded constituents from the time the legislation is introduced this week until the actual votes are taken. The outreach activities (covered in a brief separate memorandum)6 are moving ahead well and should directly contribute to our last minute support.

In sum, I believe that the Administration’s present position on the MTN is more favorable at the moment the President sends the legislation forward than for any piece of general trade legislation in U.S. history. Even so, we are not relaxing our efforts. We will continue to press the issue home both to maintain the support base we have, and to gain more momentum by voting time.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 364, 364–80–4, Special Trade Representative Subject Files, 1977–1979, Box 2, Congressional Correspondence 1977. No classification marking. Copies were sent to Moore, Wexler, Wolff, and the Assistant STRs.
  2. On June 19, Carter sent the MTN agreements, as well as legislation implementing the agreements, to Congress for approval. For Carter’s transmittal message, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1979, Book I, pp. 1092–1094.
  3. The draft letters were not found.
  4. On May 31, the United States introduced quotas on Chinese textile imports. (Clyde H. Farnsworth, “U.S. Imposes Quotas on Chinese Textiles,” The New York Times, June 1, 1979, p. A1)
  5. The letters were not found.
  6. Not found.