- The Washington Times - Friday, May 26, 2006

1:07 p.m.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer today said he would hold up President Bush’s pick as the next U.S. trade ambassador until the nominee provides detailed answers on the administration’s efforts to open China’s market for U.S. brokerages and other financial service firms.

A Senate vote on the nomination of Susan Schwab to lead the U.S. trade representative’s office had been expected as early as last night, but the New York Democrat said he would delay the vote until Ms. Schwab answers questions related to China’s financial services market.

“I know that most senators support your nomination, and it is very possible that I will as well. I simply believe that this is a very critical time for U.S. trade relations, and I felt that your responses to several of my questions at your nomination hearing, particularly as they related to China and financial services, were unnecessarily evasive and unhelpful,” Mr. Schumer said.

U.S. financial service firms face multiple restrictions on investments and operations in China.

The Senate Finance committee Monday approved Ms. Schwab’s nomination 18-1. Mr. Schumer, who is on the committee, did not vote.

Mr. Bush tapped Ms. Schwab to succeed Rob Portman as U.S. trade representative. Mr. Portman is slated to head the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

The transition, and the delay of Ms. Schwab’s nomination, come as the trade office faces an array of challenges, including deadlock at World Trade Organization talks, a rising deficit and declining public support for the Bush administration’s free-trade agenda.

U.S. trade representative spokesman Steve Norton said the office is generating a response to the letter.

“We are disappointed [with the delay]. Ambassador Schwab has very broad bipartisan support in the Senate. We hope she is confirmed as quickly as possible,” Mr. Norton said.

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