Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the Senate bill (S. 2282) to amend the Arms Export Control Act, and for other purposes, as amended.
The Clerk read as follows:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Agriculture Export Relief Act of 1998'.
SEC. 2. SANCTIONS EXEMPTIONS.
(a) Exemption Regarding Food and Other Agricultural Commodity Purchases: Section 102(b)(2)(D) of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2799aa-1(b)(2)(D)) is amended as follows:
(1) In clause (i) by striking `or' at the end.
(2) In clause (ii) by striking the period and inserting `, or'.
(3) By inserting after clause (ii) the following new clause:
`(iii) to any credit, credit guarantee, or financial assistance provided by the Department of Agriculture to support the purchase of food or other agricultural commodity.'.
(b) Description of Agricultural Commodities: Section 102(b)(2)(F) of such Act is amended by striking the period at the end and inserting `, which includes fertilizer.'.
(c) Other Exemptions: Section 102(b)(2)(D)(ii) of such Act is further amended by inserting after `to' the following: `medicines, medical equipment, and'.
(d) Application of Amendments: The amendment made by subsection (a)(3) shall apply to any credit, credit guarantee, or other financial assistance provided by the Department of Agriculture before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act through September 30, 1999.
(e) Effect on Existing Sanctions: Any sanction imposed under section 102(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act before the date of the enactment of this Act shall cease to apply upon that date with respect to the items described in the amendments made by subsections (b) and (c). In the case of the amendment made by subsection (a)(3), any sanction imposed under section 102(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act before the date of the enactment of this Act shall not be in effect during the period beginning on that date and ending on September 30, 1999, with respect to the activities and items described in the amendment.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman) and the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Hamilton) each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman).
(Mr. GILMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks on S. 2282, as amended.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New York?
There was no objection.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, it has been long-standing American policy to penalize nuclear proliferators. In fact, the so-called `Glenn amendment,' which we are modifying today, was supported by the Clinton administration and was adopted by the 103d Congress.
This bill, as amended, would permit taxpayer financing of certain commodity shipments to India and to Pakistan. It was approved in a slightly different form by unanimous rollcall vote in the other body. It extends an existing exemption for food assistance already contained in the law to financing food shipments. It also changes the definition of agricultural products and extends an exemption to include medicines.
The bill is necessary because, after extensive review, the Justice Department concluded that the law prohibits export credit guarantees for Pakistan. In response, we are making the necessary adjustments and showing ourselves capable of responding in a timely fashion to adjust these laws, if necessary.
Members should not lose sight of the fact that we are weakening the sanctions put in place against India and Pakistan on account of their having conducted numerous nuclear tests. These tests have only served to increase tensions and instability in south Asia.
I anticipate that today's debate may become a debate about our nonproliferation laws, but we should be careful about proceeding piecemeal to dismantle any of those laws. The credibility and effectiveness of our policies depends on our capacity to penalize nations which defy international norms and undermine our own national security.
I want to make clear that I am pleased that we can help our farmers by enacting this legislation. Food should not be any weapon in foreign policy.
But I also want to say that all Members should be aware of what we are doing today. We are approving United States loans funded by taxpayer dollars to replace the money that the Pakistanis could have used to take care of their own needs. Instead, they used that money to develop nuclear weapons.
I am confident that some Members will say that this bill is evidence that we need to rethink and rewrite all of our proliferation sanction laws. They will argue that our laws are ineffective and have not accomplished the purposes for which they were intended. They may even argue that our sanction laws are counterproductive.
Well, I fully disagree. There is definitely a role for both unilateral and multilateral sanctions, and I believe that they deterred India and Pakistan for many years from taking the steps they finally took earlier this year.
Just as we do not throw out the criminal code or abolish the police when we find that crime occurs, we should not give up the deterrent effects built into our nonproliferation, technology control, human rights and other foreign policy laws, even though they are not airtight.
Often it is argued that only multilateral sanctions work. Well, Members will recall that, following the G-8 summit in May, the President said he could not assert that it would have made a difference if he had been able to persuade the G-8 to sanction India. I have a hard time believing that the President really thinks that. In my view, he was merely rationalizing a failure to lead.
Had the President worked harder for a multilateral firm response, we would not be here today. In fact, Pakistan may not have tested. But we are where we are today, and we have to adjust to the situation we face today. We do not want our farmers needlessly penalized.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Smith is coming in from the airport, so at this time I will reserve the balance of my time; but, pending that, I ask unanimous consent that time be controlled by the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) on our side.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New York?
There was no objection.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise in support of this bill, S. 2282. I think all of us understand the intent of the bill. Section 102 of the Arms Export Control Act, which is commonly referred to as the `Glenn Amendment,' mandates a set of sweeping sanctions against any country that detonates a nuclear explosive device other than the five recognized nuclear weapon states.
Following the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan which they conducted last May, the United States imposed section 102 sanctions against both countries. The section 102, as currently written, exempts humanitarian assistance and intelligence activities from these sanctions.
The bill we have before us today would create one additional exemption. It would permit government financing and credits to support the sale of food, agricultural products, including fertilizers, medicines and medical equipment.
The question, of course, is why this additional exemption is needed, I think, because our experience has demonstrated that the original language of the Glenn amendment, at least in present circumstances, was too broad and sweeping in its coverage.
It was indiscriminate in its targets. It provided the executive branch with no waiver authority, and therefore reduced the President's ability to negotiate with the governments of India and Pakistan. It contained no termination date. It penalized the individuals and families in the sanctioned countries, with whom we really have no complaint, rather than the governments that have offended us. It required American producers and American farmers to forsake important sales that would be lost to foreign producers.
This bill should not be construed as a lessening of our commitment to nonproliferation. To the contrary, by crafting a more focused sanctions policy, it helps secure the domestic base for continuing sanctions. For that reason, I think even Senator Glenn, the author of the original sanctions legislation, supported this change when the Senate voted on it last week.
The administration supports this legislation. The Senate adopted it last week by a practically unanimous vote of 98 to zero. I want to note that we are amending the bill for technical reasons, and they support this amendment.
Creating an exception to sanctions in this bill does have budgetary consequences. The Senate passed the bill as an emergency spending authority. We are revising it to provide for offsets. It is my understanding that there is bipartisan agreement on this amendment, and I hope that the Senate will quickly agree to the House amendment and send the bill to the President by the time that Pakistani wheat tender occurs tomorrow. I urge my colleagues to support S. 2282.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 2 minutes.
(Mr. BEREUTER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this legislation, and endorse my colleagues' best hopes that in fact the Senate will act expeditiously on the amended version.
On May 11, 1998, America's wheat farmers were busy working in the fields when India detonated nuclear weapons the first time. Undoubtedly our farmers had no idea that Pakistan's subsequent nuclear test, and a very questionable American sanctions policy, which failed to deter the tests, would undermine our farmers' ability to sell wheat to the countries of the Asia subcontinent.
Perhaps they were also busy in their fields in 1994 when Congress passed the Glenn amendment to the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act. That amendment prohibits export credit guarantees to nonnuclear countries which either develop or test nuclear weapons.
Across the Atlantic on that same day, French wheat farmers had no idea that India's detonation of a nuclear weapon might produce such a windfall for them in lost American export markets. Contrary to the United States, France does not have a mandatory sanctions law, and their wheat sales, subsidized wheat sales, I might add, can continue to Pakistan.
Today, Mr. Speaker, American wheat farmers stand to lose a 2.2 million ton wheat market in Pakistan because of our unilateral sanctions policy toward the Asian subcontinent. The stakes are high and the timing could not be worse. If Congress does not amend the sanctions law to allow U.S.-backed wheat sales to Pakistan, the French, Canadian or Australian farmers will exploit this lucrative wheat export market without American competition at a time when American wheat prices for our farmers are at their lowest point in decades and at at time when we desperately need to hold onto those export markets.
This nearly forgotten sanction legislation imposed automatically on the backs of American farmers without additional thought, is just one facet of the 61 sanction-related laws or executive orders that Congress or the administration has enacted in the last 4 years. Those sanctions target 35 countries. According to an Institute for International Economics study, economic sanctions cost American industry and agriculture combined about $15 to $19 billion annually in exports.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone).
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I want to express support for the Agricultural Export Relief Act of 1998 that is before us. This is the first effort by Congress to lift the sanctions imposed pursuant to the Glenn amendment after India and Pakistan conducted underground nuclear tests earlier this year.
While I support this legislation, I think the President needs greater discretion in lifting these sanctions. Last week the task force empowered by the Senate leadership to look at the sanctions regime put forth a proposal that would give the President greater discretion in waiving unilateral sanctions against India and Pakistan, for example in international trade and finance. It would also allow for the President to clear the way for the U.S. to support international financial institutions to resume loan payments to India and Pakistan. The proposal, however, would not allow the President to waive sanctions that limit the transfer or sale of military and dual use technology.
Mr. Speaker, I plan to introduce a House bill today that is identical to the Senate task force proposal. I believe U.S. policy has proven to be ineffective in deterring the proliferation of nuclear weapons in South Asia, and it is time that Congress review this policy and implement legislation that gives the President greater flexibility in addressing nuclear crises.
I believe we must keep working for nonproliferation, but that the economic sanctions now in place are not the best way to achieve that goal. We have limited our diplomatic options in terms of nonproliferation in South Asia while damaging the growing economic relationship between India and the United States.
The administration has conducted several senior level meetings with the Indian government since the tests. India and Pakistan have expressed a desire to work with the U.S. in resolving these issues. Later this week Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbot and Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth will be visiting New Delhi and Islamabad to continue discussions and negotiations. This is following very successful meetings last week between the U.S. and India in Frankfurt, Germany.
During this critical time it is important that we give the President the necessary tools to help achieve our nonproliferation goals. I urge my colleagues from both chambers to work together so we can rectify this serious problem.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Manzullo), a distinguished member of the committee and a man very much focused on export issues.
Mr. MANZULLO. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this legislation. This bill makes sense. Tomorrow Pakistan will purchase 350,000 metric tons of wheat for $37 million. The only question remains which country will sell them this wheat.
Only U.S. wheat growers bear this heavy sanctions burden, while farmers in other countries eagerly await to seize this market from us. Did we not learn anything from the failed Carter grain embargo against the Soviet Union? The Soviets simply bought wheat from Argentina, Canada, and Australia, and it took years for U.S. farmers to regain a foothold in the Russian market.
What is good for the farm community should also be good for our manufacturing sector. Because of nuclear testing by India and Pakistan, Eximbank halted support for $4 billion in U.S. exports to those countries. That is placing 48,000 high-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs at risk, including those who work at Sundstrand and Woodward Governor in Rockford, which companies supply aviation parts to Boeing.
What kind of punishment is that to those countries that detonate? Ingersoll Milling Machine Company is trying to determine if it can still sell an $8 million four-axis machine center to a state-owned electric utility company in India.
Two Italian machine tool manufacturers not encumbered by these sanctions are standing by waiting to seize that market from the Americans. If Ingersoll does not receive an answer from the Commerce Department by July 20, we could lose that $8 million contract.
Motorola has already lost $15 million worth of two-way radio sales to India, and could lose hundreds of millions in more export opportunities to upgrade India's communication system because of the Eximbank sanctions. Three thousand employees work at the Harvard, Illinois plant making telecommunications equipment for Motorola.
That is why we need to rethink our whole philosophy towards sanctions. Why would we try to punish a country for doing something wrong, and we end up punishing our own workers, when that country in fact can end up buying the same materials from other countries?
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Minge).
Mr. MINGE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentleman from Indiana for yielding time to me.
Mr. Speaker, the bill that is under consideration is an emergency response in an emergency situation. We have seen the reemergence of an agricultural depression in this country. Among other areas that have been hit are wheat producing communities in the Red River and west. It has hit areas of Texas. It is critical that when our producers are in financial distress, we not attempt unilateral sanctions against other countries in this world that are doomed to failure.
Unfortunately, the unilateral sanctions we have announced against India and Pakistan do not appear to be destined for effectiveness, because other countries which are competitors in selling agricultural commodities are more than willing to come in and replace American farmers as the suppliers of those commodities; in this case, wheat.
I would urge my colleagues to carefully review this situation, and understand that as much as all of us abhor the spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear testing, that what we need to make sure is that we act responsibly here and we not use a bludgeon that is designed to be ineffective, and in many cases come back and hit ourselves and inflict a mortal wound on our own producers, when what we are trying to do is to emphasize to India and Pakistan and other countries of the world that this country does not tolerate continued nuclear testing.
This bill is a bill that ought to pass today. It ought to be signed by the President yet this week. We ought to be able to go ahead and move these agricultural commodities this week so our farmers do not have this impediment to their success in 1998.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Washington (Mr. Nethercutt), who was, of course, the Member who first took legislative action for the successful Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies on the Committee on Appropriations.
Mr. NETHERCUTT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman very much for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of this bill today. As the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) stated, he and I and the gentleman from Kansas (Mr. Moran) and the gentleman from North Dakota (Mr. Pomeroy) and many others from farm country introduced this sanctions exemption legislation over a month ago in anticipation of the effect of the Arms Export Control Act upon the agriculture industry in this country.
I, representing the State of Washington, am particularly affected by the seriousness of this sanctions policy that was adopted in 1994. I must say, I was just home in Pullman, Washington, and Walla Walla and Davenport, and some of the very high quality farm wheat-producing parts of my State and our country.
I must say to my colleagues, there is great concern about the effect of sanctions upon American agriculture; most particularly, our relationship with the countries of Pakistan and India. Pakistan is a very important trading partner to the State of Washington. We export 90 percent of our wheat in our State, soft, white wheat, and Pakistan has been a very good customer.
As we in this country have learned in the 1980s with the embargo of the Soviet Union, the self-imposed embargo, the unilateral sanctions that were imposed cost my State and my region dramatically. We lost market share in that part of the world that we are still struggling to recover. I must say, I am very supportive of this bill.
We struggled with the cost issue. We passed this legislation, we not only introduced it a month or so ago but we passed it in the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies on which I serve on the Committee on Appropriations in a bipartisan way, we passed it in the full committee, and it has passed the full House. We just did not have a chance to get it worked out on a cost payment basis through the agriculture appropriations conference.
The Senate has not finished their work yet. The other body has not finished its work yet. I respect the other body for bringing this bill to the floor, but we are going to do our best to make sure that all is fair and square regarding cost.
The most important thing is if Pakistan buys wheat on the market Wednesday, tomorrow, with their tender, it is critically important that we do not interrupt that ability by Pakistan to deal with American farm interests. If we do not lift these sanctions and have it in place by today, then we lose. Our farmers are unilaterally going to lose because our market would be shut off by these sanctions in position.
I must say to my colleagues, let us struggle through the cost part of this sanctions issue and lifting the sanctions issue, but we must stand up for our agricultural interests and the farmers of my State and Nebraska and Kansas and every other State that deal with agriculture, or else our farmers are in great jeopardy.
I am pleased to speak in favor of this bill, and urge its adoption by this House.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentleman from Texas (Mr. Stenholm).
Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of S. 2282. It is clear to me that the sanctions provisions of the Arms Export Control Act were never intended to limit the use of the Export Credit Guarantee Program. Nevertheless, I support clarification of the Act because of the uncertainty, as we have heard, of the U.S. wheat market.
Indeed, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs has recently sent a letter to the Congress indicating the Administration's strong support for this clarifying provision. In plain English, what we are saying is that it really does not make any common sense for the United States to unilaterally impose sanctions upon our producers and allow our friends and allies to make a sale.
As we have heard, the criticalness, the timeliness of this indicates we need to pass this and send this to the President for his signature very quickly.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Barrett).
Mr. BARRETT of Nebraska. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.
I also rise in support of this legislation. I do support the use of sanctions as a foreign policy tool, but I believe that the USDA has used them all too frequently.
The bill we are considering today would allow USDA to guarantee U.S. wheat sales to Pakistan and to India. Without the bill, American farmers would not be able to sell their product.
As has been mentioned by my colleagues from Illinois and Washington, Pakistan is expected to request bids for wheat very soon, possibly as early as tomorrow. This could involve nearly $40 million in sales of U.S. wheat.
I have examined the proposals to address the crisis in American agriculture, Mr. Speaker. There are some producers out there that are hurting; there is no question about it. I do not believe that the proposed solutions we are hearing about will do as much good as some believe. The so-called solutions would only rechain American agriculture to the dictatorial whims of our government.
However, the Federal Government, Congress and the executive branch, must live up to the promises of the 1996 Farm Bill or we could face a crisis. We must commit to a long-term, focused trade agenda. We need to expand our markets, enhance markets and find new markets.
It is a good bill. I hope the body will support it.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from California Mr. Dooley.
(Mr. DOOLEY of California asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. DOOLEY of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of S. 2282 and ask my colleagues to support this important bill. This bill, which passed the Senate last week by a vote of 98 to 0, makes important changes in the 1994 Arms Export Control Act to allow India and Pakistan to continue to use U.S. guaranteed loans to import American food, fertilizer and other agriculture commodities.
The immediate beneficiaries of this legislation will be the wheat farmers in the Pacific Northwest who will be able to participate in the upcoming auction for 350,000 metric tons of white winter wheat to be sold to Pakistan.
While I support this legislation, I feel, unfortunately, that it does not go far enough, because it seems unlikely that India and Pakistan will be interested in purchasing U.S. agriculture products over a long term if we continue to prohibit the sale of other higher-value products to these countries.
While I have been listening to the remarks of some of my colleagues here, I find it difficult to see how we can rationalize that if it makes sense and it is in the interest of U.S. farmers to allow for their exportation of products to countries that are subject to sanctions, why does it not make sense for us to eliminate the sanctions on the production of any other U.S.-produced commodity or product?
Clearly, it is in the interest of U.S. workers and U.S. companies to eliminate sanctions that penalize our working men and women. That is why we need to go further, why we need to support the legislation introduced by our colleagues, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Hamilton) and Mr. Sharp, that we can provide a better framework for future U.S. economic sanctions policy.
When we go beyond the sanctions, we have to move forward aggressively with our other trade issues and turn to the full funding of the International Monetary Fund, the passage of China most-favored-nation as well as the eventual passage of fast track authorization for the President.
I thank the gentleman for the opportunity to speak in support of S. 2282.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Kansas (Mr. Moran).
Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from New York for yielding me the time.
The timing on this legislation is important. S. 2282 needs to pass quickly and today. We need to resolve any differences with the Senate, and this legislation needs to be signed by the President. Not only is the timing important but Pakistan is important, 350,000 tons is up tomorrow for export tender, and our wheat farmers in Kansas as well as across the country cannot afford to lose one more market.
Price is low, as we know. Storage is a problem in Kansas. Transportation is a problem in Kansas. We need to move wheat on world markets to assist in improving the price, opening up storage and moving grain in our transportation system. It is necessary to have a boost in foreign sales, and perhaps that boost will translate into higher prices for wheat sold on the markets across this country.
This sets the stage for reducing trade barriers. It opens up the opportunity, sends a clear message to the rest of the world that we care about fighting on behalf of agriculture, and it also reminds us that sanctions do not work.
The gentleman who spoke previously is correct. We need to take the next step in regard to the Agricultural Export Act and the Sanctions Reform Act.
I urge passage of this bill quickly.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Hastings).
(Mr. HASTINGS of Washington asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all the Members who have worked on this measure, particularly the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman), the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Smith) and my colleague, the gentleman from Washington State (Mr. Nethercutt). Without their leadership on this issue, we would not be here today considering this important measure.
Right now, the wheat producers of Washington State are facing wheat prices that are below the cost of production. This means that they can either choose to sell for a loss or store their wheat in hopes that prices will return to a higher level. Many of these growers have been waiting around for months for the price to climb. It has not. Now is the time to act.
Unfortunately, with the test of the nuclear weapons by both India and Pakistan, the Arms Control Act Mandates certain economic sanctions. Mr. Speaker, let me be clear, I wholeheartedly condemn the escalation of the arms race between India and Pakistan. I do not believe the way to send a message is to unilaterally cut off trade of our producers. That is precisely what will happen if we do not pass this bill before us today.
It is important to note that Pakistan is a number one foreign purchaser of wheat from the northwest, over 35 percent. Without the guarantees that are offered by the credits, the Department of Agriculture, Pakistan will purchase billions of dollars of wheat from other countries such as Australia and Canada. They are not bound by these outdated laws on our books.
So I would like to emphasize the timeliness of this legislation. If we do not pass this legislation today or the Senate does not follow suit immediately, our producers will be unable to participate in the upcoming rounds of purchases by Pakistan, and we will have missed another key opportunity to help our foreign farmers.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to reiterate what has been said here today. This legislation is very, very important to our agriculture industry but particularly to the wheat industry in my State.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from North Dakota (Mr. Pomeroy).
Mr. POMEROY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.
I just returned today from 3 weeks in North Dakota. I want my colleagues to understand just how desperately dire the farm situation is in my State and throughout the upper Great Plains.
We are absolutely ravaged by the twin disasters of very difficult times producing a crop and then a horribly insufficient price once you get a few bushels to market. In fact, let us focus on the price problem for purpose of the debate before us.
Price adjusted for inflation for wheat is at its lowest point in 50 years, this in the face of input costs that have gone up 71 percent since 1992. Under that new farm bill, we have done terrible damage to any functioning safety net for agriculture, as the farmers in my region are so tragically demonstrating.
That means we have to do everything possible to try and get that price up. That is why I was so pleased to join the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Nethercutt) in initiating the legislation that is substantially what is before us this afternoon and why we must act and must act now.
The USDA has done some brilliant work using the GSM loan program to advance wheat sales. With Pakistan representing potentially 10 percent of our wheat export market, it is vital that we do not lose a day, that we do not lose one sale by virtue of having this GSM program opportunity disrupted by application of the Arms Export Control Act.
I have read that act and I, for the life of me, do not really see why we could not have gone forward with this anyway, but the administration has ruled that we needed legislation. So let us pass the legislation and let us pass it today.
We should not continue this `hurt America first' policy which is the unfortunate aspect of applying sanctions on our agriculture exports. We need this legislation. Please join me in voting for it.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter).
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.
I thought I would try to set some context for why the removal of this sanction is so important. Among the things that has happened that is very much on our minds are the ramifications of the Asian financial crisis. We have seen a dramatic cutback in agriculture exports from this country to Asia. One of the reasons for that reduction, of course, is not only the absolute cutback of the imports by those Asian countries, but it also reflects the fact that the American currency versus the Australian, the Canadian and the European currencies is now more valuable; therefore, our export commodities and processed food products are less competitive in price than they were just a few months ago.
Thus we not only have an overall reduction in the imports of agriculture commodities by these countries, we actually have American exports a bit less competitive than they were. This reduction in imports and the reduced competitiveness of our exports have had a dramatic and negative impact upon our trade. That is why this legislation, before us today is so important. We especially cannot afford to lose those Pakistani or Indian agricultural export markets at this time. There is no reason why economic sanctions should fall on the backs of the American farmer. I would imagine that it was not, the intention of the original sanction legislation.
I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Smith), distinguished chairman of our Committee on Agriculture.
Mr. SMITH of Oregon. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.
Mr. Speaker, having just arrived from a long airplane trip from Oregon, I can tell my colleagues that the eyes of the Pacific Northwest are upon us at this time.
The urgency, I know, has been identified here, but, for instance, Pakistan is on the verge of a purchase of some 350,000 metric tons of wheat. I am sure it has been identified that sanctions were never to include food purchases and even the unintended result was voiced by the administration when the President has introduced this and supported this kind of legislation.
So, without further ado, Mr. Speaker, we hope that we can rush this along, even move it to the other body within the hour and it can become law, a great benefit, by the way, to a great country that needs to sell wheat, the United States, and a great country, Pakistan, who, by the way, is buying wheat for half the price it paid last year. Both our benefits are met.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Shimkus). The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman) that the House suspend the rules and pass the Senate bill, S. 2282, as amended.
The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor thereof) the rules were suspended and the Senate bill, as amended, was passed.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.