In this file:
· Exclusive: Congress can take vote to withdraw from WTO in July
· House leaders maneuver to prevent vote on WTO withdrawal
Exclusive: Congress can take vote to withdraw from WTO in July
Trump's leadership potentially sets the stage for a vigorous congressional debate over continued U.S. membership in the trade body.
By Doug Palmer, POLITICO
The House and Senate parliamentarians have cleared the way for votes on a pair of resolutions to withdraw from the World Trade Organization in late July, after Congress returns from a two-week recess.
Kelli Ford, a spokesperson for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), said the office received the decision on his resolution from the Senate parliamentarian last week.
“We are pleased that the parliamentarian has ruled that a vote on the WTO withdrawal resolution is in order," Ford said. "It’s important that the public has a chance to weigh in on this critical issue that impacts millions of jobs."
Hawley, who was elected in 2018, is one of the biggest critics in Congress of the WTO and is also a hardliner on China. His withdrawal resolution is driven by both concerns.
"The WTO has done a great job enabling China’s economic imperialism, but very little to protect American industries or the millions of jobs that have gone overseas. We should abandon the WTO and work with free nations to build a new international system that actually puts American workers first,” Hawley said in a statement provided to POLITICO.
Two House members, Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), have also introduced a resolution, calling for withdrawal from the WTO. The House parliamentarian has ruled that the issue can be voted on in the lower chamber, a spokesperson for DeFazio said.
Why it matters: The decision means lawmakers will be forced to go on the record either in favor or against withdrawing from the WTO, which the Trump administration has frequently accused of being unfair to the United States.
The push to get out of the WTO comes as the United States and the 163 other members of the organization are in midst of selecting a new director general to succeed Roberto Azevêdo, who is leaving at the end of August.
Opponents of the resolutions say U.S. withdrawal from the WTO would give Beijing more influence, not less, over the global trading environment. The measures also ignore the leading role that the United States played in creating the WTO and its predecessor organization, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, those opponents say.
Critical context: A provision in the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreement Act, which approved U.S membership in the WTO, allows Congress to vote every five years on whether to stay in.
Withdrawal would only happen if both the House and the Senate approve a resolution and President Donald Trump signed it into law.
U.S. lawmakers have not voted on WTO membership since 2005, when the House defeated a withdrawal resolution 86-338. Five years earlier, a similar resolution failed by a 56-363 vote. The Senate has never voted on withdrawal.
The Republican Party has grown more suspicious of trade under Trump's leadership, potentially setting the stage for a vigorous congressional debate over continued U.S. membership.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer last week called the WTO "a mess" and said it had failed both the United States and the international trading system. He also said its current rules were inadequate to control the practices of large state-run economies like China. However, he has stopped short of calling for withdrawal from the 25-year-old trade body.
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House leaders maneuver to prevent vote on WTO withdrawal
By Sabrina Rodríguez and Doug Palmer, POLITICO
With help from Gavin Bade
The House is expected to vote today on a rule that effectively kills chances of a resolution to withdraw from the WTO that was introduced by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).
The House Rules Committee voted 9-4 Wednesday evening to approve a rule for floor action on a number of pending measures, including the WTO provision.
A spokesperson for DeFazio acknowledged the move derailed chances for a vote on his resolution.
“Rep. DeFazio believes this is a missed opportunity for the House to debate the future of U.S. participation in the WTO, a body which has failed our country and serves the interests of Wall Street and multinational corporations, not the interests of working people,” the spokesperson said.
The details: The rule, which is not open to amendment, would waive Section 125(c) of 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act for the remainder of the current Congress. That effectively strips the expedited procedures guaranteeing any withdrawal resolution will reach the floor. Those procedures include a requirement that any resolution be automatically discharged from the House Ways and Means Committee after 45 days.
If approved, the rule could also kill any possibility of the United States withdrawing from the WTO until at least 2025, since both the House and the Senate would have to approve such a measure for withdrawal to occur. In addition, the URAA only provides the opportunity for a vote on withdrawal once every five years.
WTO CAUGHT BETWEEN THE U.S. AND CHINA ON TARIFFS: The WTO could in a few days hand down a ruling on Trump’s China tariffs that’ll either deepen Trump’s belief that the WTO has an anti-American bias or legitimize the president’s repeated use of unilateral trade actions to resolve disputes.
Timing is unclear: The U.S. and China are expected to receive a final ruling by the end of the month, according to the WTO’s website. But it could take longer for the ruling to be made public because the WTO must first translate it into the three official WTO languages and circulate it to member countries.
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