Due to a short work week last week in observance of the US Thanksgiving holiday, below is a lighter than usual version of Trade Talk.
Congressional Priorities for the Remainder of 2016. The U.S. Congress is in recess this week, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Both chambers will reconvene on Monday. When Congress returns it will have only 12 legislative working days in Washington before both chambers expect to recess on 21 December, bringing the first session of the 114th Congress to a close.
Some items remaining on Congress’ agenda before the end of the year include: (1) reconciling and passing the longer-term highway bill that contains provisions reauthorizing the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank; (2) advancing a Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 spending bill (Omnibus) to fund the federal government beyond 11 December; (3) passing a tax extenders measure; and (4) possibly passing a conferenced Customs measure that could include some “fixes” to already-passed Trade Promotion Authority legislation (TPA; Pub. L. 114-26), which stem from concerns associated with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal.
With respect to the FY 2016 Omnibus, there is a congressional battle ahead over dozens of possible policy riders aimed at environmental regulations and Wall Street that Republicans insist should be included in the bill and Democrats warn could lead to a government shutdown. While some conservatives also want to add language blocking President Obama’s Syrian refugee resettlement program, Republican leaders appear reluctant to pursue this path.
TPP – Latest Developments. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman traveled to Los Angeles this week to emphasize how the TPP deal will deliver over 18,000 tax cuts for American exports and support high-paying jobs in California. Meanwhile, U.S. business associations and their corporate members – such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Business Roundtable – continue to withhold publicly declaring their support for the TPP deal. Many expect U.S. trade associations are expected to publish their respective position statements in December.
Ex-Im Bank/Highway Bill Reconciliation Update. Possibly complicating the highway bill (H.R. 22) reconciliation process – which includes a provision to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank – is a new Ex-Im-related policy rider offered this week by Senators Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). The provision, if included, would require any Ex-Im applicant to oppose Palestinian efforts to push other nations to take actions to boycott, divest or sanction (BDS) Israel. Similar language already was included in the TPA legislation, which became law in July. Lawmakers are hoping to conclude and pass a reconciled long-term highway bill before the 4 December deadline for extending federal transportation funding.
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