TASK FORCE ON ECONOMIC SANCTIONS (Senate - June 26, 1998)

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Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, Senator Daschle and I have been talking about a task force to consider the question of economic sanctions , how they are put in place, how they are dealt with, both in the short term and over the long term. We have discussed this matter with Secretary of State Albright.

I think there is feeling on both sides of the aisle that perhaps the proclivity to place sanctions , economic sanctions on countries around the world repeatedly, and with not a clear way of ending those, has become a problem, at least one we should think very carefully about to see if there is a way we can deal with some of the pending legislation in this area, like, for instance, the Glenn amendment that was applicable in the case of India and, I believe, Pakistan with the Pressler amendment, and a number of other instances.

On the longer term, I think we need to have a task force to give thought, how we do this, when we do it, and even when we end it. I have discussed it with a number of Senators on our side of the aisle who work in this area of foreign policy and deal with the question of sanctions , and so I am satisfied we can have a good group and this will be a bipartisan group. So I want to announce we are agreeing to create a task force on economic sanctions to examine this whole area.

I wanted to have a short-term mandate, though, not just the broader policy questions, but to examine what we can do or what should be done about sanctions on India and Pakistan as a result of their nuclear programs. With the recent stories of nuclear tests in south Asia, it is important to look at the U.S. sanctions laws and how they affect our ability to de-escalate the nuclear arms race in the region.

I have asked the task force to make recommendations to the Senate leadership by July 15, 1998, on sanctions relating to these two countries--India and Pakistan . We will also ask this task force to examine overall issues related to sanctions , legislation, and implementation.

I have asked the task force to report back to the Senate leadership by September 1, 1998, on the following issues:

What constitutes a sanction?

There are many categories of legislative and executive branch action, using economic sanctions in an effort to support policy goals, including restrictions on U.S. Government funds, conditions on the export of sensitive technology, and limitations on normal commercial activity.

What sanctions are now in place? And what flexibility is provided in these different sanctions ? That would be a second question.

Third: How should success be assessed in determining the effectiveness of these sanctions ? When have we done what we wanted to achieve, and then can perhaps remove them?

Fourth: How should policy goals be defined in considering and implementing these sanctions ?

Are effective procedures in place now to ensure coordination between the executive and legislative branches for the consideration and imposition of sanctions ?

I have to say, I think the answer to that question is no; there is not adequate coordination and communication between the executive and legislative branches in this area of sanctions .

Are effective procedures in place for oversight and monitoring of the executive branch compliance and implementation

of existing sanctions ?

I have been stunned by some of the instances that I have seen with regard to Russia and with China where clearly sanctions were called for, should have been almost automatic by the administration, and it did not happen. Why not? And so we need to think about that.

Should there be a unique Senate floor or committee procedure for considering sanctions legislation?

Answering all of these questions in the limited timeframe will not be easy, but I am confident this very distinguished and qualified bipartisan group can come up with some very good recommendations. And I hope that the Senate will reserve its judgment and not act in this area until we see what will come out of the task force recommendations.

The task force will include 18 Members and will be chaired by the distinguished Senator from Kentucky, Senator McConnell. He is chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. The cochair will be Senator Biden. The task force will also include Senators Helms, Baucus, Lugar, Dodd, D'Amato, Glenn, Mack, Kerry, Kyl, Leahy, Warner, Levin, Hutchinson, Lieberman, Roberts, and Moynihan. I think you can see this is a very distinguished group. And I know they will have some very important recommendations to the Senate.

I will be glad to yield to the Senator from Kentucky.

Mr. McCONNELL. I thank the leader.

I suppose there is not a single Member of this body, I would say to the majority leader, who has been very consistent on this subject. Sometimes Members have felt that sanctions were inappropriate except in their particular area of interest where they thought sanctions might make sense. I confess to being entirely inconsistent, too, myself, I say to my friend from Mississippi, having supported sanctions in South Africa and opposed them in China and other places. So none of us have a consistent pattern here.

I think it is very important to try to pull together the best thinking available from Senators on both sides of the aisle to see whether there is some kind of coherent way to go forward in this field.

So I thank the majority leader for his understanding of the importance to try to pull us together in this complicated area. And I assure him I will do my best to try to give everybody an opportunity to have their say. And we will certainly meet the deadlines. I say to the distinguished majority leader, the deadlines will be met, with or without consensus, I cannot say at this point. But I look forward to working on this assignment. I thank the majority leader for the opportunity.

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Mr. LOTT. I thank you, I say to Senator McConnell.

I do note that Senator Daschle and I have been communicating on this back and forth the last 2 weeks. I am sorry he is not able to be here now. But this is an example of how we do come together and work very carefully and sensibly, hopefully, when it comes to foreign policy questions. And he certainly wanted to go forward with this. I am glad we were able to make this announcement this afternoon.

I do have a series of bills I believe we can deal with before we adjourn for the week.

I know Senator Ford here is on behalf of the Democratic leader. So we can go through these pretty quickly.