|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||CONTACT: CHRISTI HARLAN|
|Wednesday, February 7, 2001||202-224-0894|
Sen. Phil Gramm, chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, made the following statement today at a full committee hearing on S.149, the Export Administration Act of 2001. The bill, introduced Jan. 23, would provide the legal framework for the executive branch to implement export controls on non-military items for both national security and foreign policy reasons.
"We are here today to talk about the Export Administration Act. As our colleagues know, the Export Administration Act is a very important piece of legislation because it is our attempt as a nation to deal with apparently conflicting goals.
"On one hand, we have a goal to dominate the production of high-tech items in the world. We want to produce new and better items. We want to be at the cutting edge of the world's commercial markets and, at the same time, as the preeminent defender of freedom and right in the world, we want, to the degree we can and at prices we're willing to pay, to prevent adversaries and would-be hostile forces from getting access to technology that could endanger our interests, our freedom and our lives.
"We have put together on this committee on a bipartisan basis an excellent bill. I want to congratulate Senator Enzi, Senator Sarbanes and Senator Johnson for their hard work on this bill. I believe we have a bill that will come close to getting a unanimous vote in committee, and I am confident that it will be supported by the administration and will become the law of the land.
"The basic premise of the bill is that if something is mass marketed or if you can buy it in the marketplace of the world, while it may have defense uses, there is no way you can prevent a would-be user of that technology from having access to it. Our bill is based on the premise that we need to build a higher wall around a smaller number of items and that we need to have stiff penalties for people who, on a knowing and willful basis, violate the law.
"We have established a system in our bill that I believe meets both our security and commercial concerns.
"We establish a mechanism whereby we look to the future to judge the flow of technology and the timing so, for example, if we're about to have a change in the capacity of computers – such as the ability of widely marketed computers to do theoretical calculations per second – rather than waiting for it to rise, requiring American producers to apply for a license that will be approved, we can on a prospective basis change the standard and allow American producers to be leaders in the market. That is clearly better than having to fool around with an application process for a technology that is already widely available.
"I'm very proud of this bill. We're eager to move forward with it. We're holding our first hearing today with people who represent the commercial interests of America, which have a vital stake in this legislation, as well as an academic who specializes in this area.
"We want to write the best bill that we can write. If anyone has any suggestions, we want to hear them. We have simply tried to put together the best ideas we could find. If we find better ideas, we'll change the bill.
"It is my thesis that, given that the Berlin Wall has been torn down, given that we have liberated eastern Europe and destroyed the Soviet Union, clearly there is a need to change the basis focus of our export administration system. It is also my thesis that even when Ivan was at the gate, we were trying to control too many things and not putting enough focus on controlling the things that really mattered.
"I believe that the ultimate source of America's national security is our ability to dominate the flow of new and productive ideas as they relate to technology, not our ability to protect old ideas that we or anybody else has developed. In the end, you cannot protect technology. You can delay it, but in the end, productive ideas get employed everywhere."