The Senate Finance Committee could hold a hearing as early as next week on the nomination of Ron Kirk to be the chief U.S. trade negotiator. A hearing would have been held earlier but the committee was busy with the economic stimulus package. The lack of confirmation has slowed World Trade Organization talks.
The absence of a trade negotiating team comes as business groups urge the Obama administration to re-energize global trade talks — and as talk of trade barriers increases at home and abroad amid a deepening recession.
Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., says he is not aware of any problems in Kirk's vetting process. His nomination has been applauded by the business community, but his record on international trade issues is fairly thin.