Grassley’s 2020 trade agenda


Adam Behsudi, POLITICO



With help from Doug Palmer


Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley said his work on trade won’t be over after the Senate passes the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement in the coming weeks. The Iowa Republican told reporters on Wednesday that he’s still interested in moving legislation to discipline the executive branch’s use of Section 232 national security tariffs.


“It may be just the committee working its will but I think there’s enough desire in my committee to do something about 232,” he said. “232 would be the best we could do in legislation.”


Grassley had been working last year to find some compromise on two versions of proposed legislation that would give Congress more of a role in Section 232 decisions. He said his goal was to reach agreement on a veto-proof bill. President Donald Trump used the law to justify tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in order to protect national security. He also threatened to use it on imports of automobiles.


Oversight, oversight: The senior lawmaker also said he’s prepared to do “a lot of oversight” when it comes to implementation of a “phase one” China deal and new USMCA rules. The committee is also prepared to play a role in trade talks with the United Kingdom, which were initiated under Trade Promotion Authority — a law that gives the executive branch the ability to negotiate trade deals on behalf of Congress, which has constitutional jurisdiction over such matters.


“We’re going to have to follow through on China oversight, have to follow through on this USMCA, particularly some of the enforcement provisions,” Grassley said.


The lawmaker said he’s keenly interested in making sure Beijing is making good on the U.S. demand that China import the $40 to $50 billion worth of American agricultural goods per year for the next two years.


No word on 232 auto report release: Meanwhile, the Commerce Department remains quiet on whether it will release the results of its Section 232 auto investigation by Jan. 19, as required by the giant spending bill Trump signed last month. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), a critic of the investigation that was completed last year but never released, inserted the provision in the bill.


USMCA COMMITTEE MARKUPS SET FOR NEXT WEEK: At least five Senate committees will vote next week on President Donald Trump's new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. But the final timing of full Senate action still likely depends on when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sends over the articles of Trump’s impeachment, allowing the trial to begin.


The Budget Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee will both vote Tuesday on the trade pact, while the Commerce Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee will take up the agreement Wednesday, committee aides said. The Foreign Relations Committee expects to vote Thursday on the pact. A sixth panel, the Appropriations Committee, also plans to markup the trade deal, but has not yet set a date, another aide said.


In most cases, only the Senate Finance Committee votes on a trade deal before it goes to the floor. On Tuesday, the panel approved the USMCA by a 25-3 vote in a sign of broad bipartisan support. But the Senate parliamentarian, citing the 1974 trade act, determined late last week that six other panels also had to weigh in.


Hopeful for quick action ...






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