Senate Panel Approves Kirk As Trade Chief

Associated Press
Friday, March 13, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee yesterday approved former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk (D) to be the next U.S. trade representative, the person in charge of steering the country's trade policy.

Kirk's confirmation hit a bump last week when it was revealed that he, like some others nominated by President Obama, had a problem with underpaid taxes.

But Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) declared the tax trouble an honest mistake and endorsed Kirk as the best choice. He was approved by voice vote.

The panel's approval sets the stage for full Senate consideration. Senate approval would fill one of Obama's last empty Cabinet slots.

As trade representative, Kirk must find a balance between business and farm groups supporting an expansion of free trade agreements, and union and consumer groups who say past agreements have cost American jobs.

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