Canton Repository

September 30, 2005

Senate committee OKs Lavin

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON — Franklin L. Lavin, President Bush’s nominee for undersecretary of commerce for international trade, won unanimous approval from one Senate committee Thursday, but still faces another hearing before a different committee on his way to full Senate consideration.

Members of the Senate Banking Committee, meeting after the Senate’s vote to confirm Judge John Roberts as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, gave unanimous consent to Lavin, a native of Canton, Ohio, and nine other nominees to administration posts.

During an appearance before the banking committee Sept. 15, Lavin pledged to enforce fair trade laws.

“We must use all of the tools at our disposal to ensure that American businesses face fair competition,” he said. “We must enforce the rules. And we must hold our trading partners accountable to the agreements they have signed.”

If confirmed, Lavin would become the top trade official in the U.S. Commerce Department. As undersecretary to U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, he would head the agency’s 2,500-employee International Trade Administration.

Lavin still must appear before the Senate Finance Committee, which shares jurisdiction over trade-related appointments with the banking committee. A hearing is planned next month. If approved by the Finance Committee, Lavin would proceed to the Senate for a final confirmation vote.

In addition to offering export assistance to U.S. companies, the ITA monitors foreign compliance with trade laws and enforces trade agreements.

With Lavin’s confirmation, Ohioans would occupy the top two trade posts in the Bush administration. Former U.S. Rep. Rob Portman of Ohio serves as U.S. trade representative, the Cabinet-rank official responsible for negotiating trade agreements.

As undersecretary, Lavin also would have contact with another Ohioan. Bush last week appointed Timothy P. Smucker, chairman of the Orrville, Ohio, based J.M. Smucker Co., to serve on the President’s Export Council. The council operates under the manufacturing and services unit of the ITA.