February 4, 2019

Senate Expands Trade Panel Membership As Lawmakers Say White House Must End Penalties On Canada

In what perhaps is a sign of the importance trade will take on in the 116thCongress, U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have agreed to more than double the membership of the panel’s trade subcommittee. The committee will be tasked this year with debating the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) and oversight of the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs, among other issues. The subcommittee will be led by Chairman Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-Penn.).

The balance of the committee will be made up by:

  • Republicans: Bill Cassidy (La.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Steve Daines (Mont.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Tim Scott (S.C.), John Thune (S.D.), and Todd Young (Ind.).
  • Democrats:Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Mark Warner (Va.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee has not yet announced the members of its trade subcommittee.

In related news: in an op-ed column published last week, Finance Committee Chair Grassley called for U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum to be lifted before Congress considers passage of the USMCA. House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas), and several Democrats, have expressed the same opinion.

Meanwhile, in a letter to Chairman Grassley, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer submitted a description of changes to existing laws that would be necessary bring the United States into compliance with the USMCA. This letter is part of the multi-step process that is required by law to ensure the U.S. House and Senate are able to debate the USMCA when lawmakers are ready to consider it.