The Export Administration Act, which would centralize and establish standards for the control of sensitive exports instead of relying on the current patchwork of executive orders, was expected to receive Senate approval Thursday. But the five concluded that the language did not go far enough in controlling the export of materials with national security implications and used Senate procedures to prevent a final vote on the bill.
The legislative mutiny by the five senators - Tennessee's Fred Thompson, Arizona's John McCain and Jon Kyl, Virginia's John Warner and Alabama's Richard Shelby - on a trade issue prompted the White House into releasing an uncommon statement of policy endorsing the bill.
"The administration believes that S. 149 would allow the United States to successfully meet its national security and foreign policy objectives without impairing the ability of U.S. companies to compete effectively in the global marketplace," the statement issued from the Office of Management and the Budget said.
"As reported, S. 149 includes a number of changes that the administration sought to strengthen the president's national security and foreign policy authorities to control dual-use exports."
The five senators refused to grant their consent to the Senate leadership to allow the bill to proceed to a vote because of their opposition and sense that the Bush administration was refusing to negotiate. Most votes on the Senate floor are governed by unanimous consent agreements, so the objections of five senators from the majority party are hard to ignore.
S. 149 is strongly supported by several members, including Texas Republican Phil Gramm, Maryland Democrat Paul Sarbanes and Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel.
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