(January 22, 2001) House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier gave an address on technology issues in the 107th Congress on Friday, January 19. He advocated giving the President fast track trade negotiating authority, opening markets to free trade, reducing export restraints on commercially available products, and reducing the top rate on capital gains taxes.
Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) represents a southern California district in the House of Representatives. He is also the Chairman of the small but powerful House Rules Committee, which plays a gate keeping function for legislation in the House. He has used this position to advance tech related legislation in the past.
He spoke to about 150 people at a luncheon hosted by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and TechNet at the National Press Club.
Much of his address focused on trade and tax issues which affect the technology sector of the U.S. economy. "We are very proud of what was the number one priority for TechNet last year, and that is, the successful passage of permanent normal trade relations for the People's Republic of China."
"We have to build on it," he continued. "There are other trade issues which need to be addressed. And, you should know that, clearly, I am happy to say that I have talked with President Elect Bush about this, one of our priorities is going to be to put into place what used to be called fast track negotiating authority. We are calling it trade negotiating authority -- trade expansion authority."
Congress did not give Clinton this authority, and there remains substantial opposition to it in the current Congress.
Rep. Dreier also stated that "We want to make sure that we find opportunities to open up new markets around the world. And, it is going to be a real challenge for us to do that. But, we are going to have to give this administration the authority to embark upon those agreements. And, they are not going to be able to do it without our having granted that authority."
"I believe that putting together APEC agreement, expanding free trade among the Americas, should be very high on the list," he added.
Rep. Dreier next addressed restraints upon technology exports. "We are pleased that, in the last two weeks, the Clinton administration has made the decision to lift the MTOPS level. But quite frankly, I think that we need to have major reform of the export control laws. And, we have talked about that in the past. And, I am convinced that we have an opportunity to put into place an overall package that would bring about reform of export controls in such a way that will underscore that fact that if products are available to other countries around the world we should not diminish the ability of U.S. businesses to compete there. And, our focus should be on controlling technology which is directly used for the build up of missile systems and other things, rather than, again, commercially available products."
Finally, Rep. Dreier addressed tax policy. "I think that tax policy is going to be key. President Bush is going to vigorously pursue the tax package which he unveiled during the campaign. I argued that the plan that he outlined last summer is more important today than it was then, because marginal rate reduction is going to be critical to expanding the economic growth which we have had, and of course, to prevent any kind of downturn. And I also should say, that on the opening day, in a bipartisan way, I introduced legislation to reduce the top rate on capital gains by 25%, from 20% to 15%."
He also joked about which political party was better for technology. Other speakers at the same event included Rep. Cal Dooley (D-CA) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
"I want you all to know that Chris Dodd's absence underscores the fact that the Democrats have no concern whatsoever for the technology sector of our economy, and that it will be only Republicans who will be blazing the trail on these issues."
"I know that Ron Wyden, and Jane Harmon, and Cal Dooley are here, but just by virtue of their being here, they are going to be joining the Republican majority in their respective bodies, I should tell you. Let me say that, obviously, bipartisanship is critically important as we look at the very important issues that face the technology sector of our economy."
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) spoke shortly after Rep. Dreier. He stated that "we Democrats, particularly the new Democrats ... we were bipartisan before it became cool. I just want to set the record straight on that."
Rep. Dreier concluded by stating that "working with my colleagues on
both sides of the aisle is going to be important, because we know, that there
are, in fact, a group of Democrats who have courageously stood up to some of
those traditional support groups of theirs, to do, in fact, what we believe to
be the right thing. I take my hat off to them, and congratulate them for the
work that they are doing. And, it is my hope through this education process,
that we will be able to get even more Democrats to focus on those issues. And,
then those few Republicans who may not be on board on every issue, I am
convinced, that we will be able to get them."