Legislation authorizing the president to negotiate restrictions on Japanese car and truck imports is expected to be squeezed through the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate today during the lame-duck Congress's last-minute legislative press.
The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to debate the politically sensitive legislation at 10 a.m. today, and it is listed on the full House's suspension calendar for consideration after the committee acts.
The House measure, introduced by Rep. Donald J. Albosta (D-Mich.), passed Nov. 20 in the House Ways and Means trade subcommittee by a 16-to-1 vote, and observers said yesterday that it probably will pass in the House. If the House approves the measures, the Senate may act on a similar proposal introduced by Sen. Donald W. Riegle (D-Mich.) as early as Wednesday, sources said.
However, some resistance may be voiced by a few congressmen who feel it is unfair to the new administration to pass the proposal quickly and that the legislation should be considered more fully. Other congressmen said that the proposal would circumvent existing trade laws and open the door for other depressed industries to ask for similar legislation.
The proposal is intended to help repair some of the financial damage experienced by the U.S. auto industry, which the Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers union contend is being caused by imports of Japanese cars.
The House measure and similar legislation in the Senate were introduced after Ford and the UAW asked the International Trade Commission to consider restricting the number of imported cars and trucks, particularly those from Japan.
With time growing short before the end of the current legislative session, Rep. Charles A. Vanik (D-Ohio) scheduled hearings within hours of the ITC decison to pass the legislation quickly. President Carter, however, said through U.S. Trade Representative Reubin Askew that even if the legislation passed, he wouldn't use the new authority. Carter said such power should be left to President-elect Ronald Reagan.