Ellyn Ferguson

US-Mexico tariff talks resume Friday as implementation looms Monday
House Ways and Means chairman says if Trump imposes tariffs, he’ll introduce resolution to repeal them

Mexico and the U.S. will continue talks Friday about efforts to curb the flow of Central American migrants to the southern U.S. border, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said in a short statement late Thursday.

Mexico is trying to reach an agreement with the U.S. on migration in order to avoid a series of escalating tariffs President Donald Trump has threatened to impose on all Mexican imports. The first round of tariffs would begin Monday with a 5 percent duty on imports ranging from fruits to machinery.

Lawmakers put funding ban on human embryo gene editing research in Ag. bill
The rider bars the Food and Drug Administration from approving research that involves gene-editing of human embryos

Appropriators did some soul searching Tuesday before deciding to include a policy rider in the fiscal 2020 Agriculture spending bill that would bar the Food and Drug Administration from approving research that involves gene-editing of human embryos.

By voice vote, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., to put back language that had been in the spending bill since fiscal 2016 but was omitted in the draft bill approved on May 23 by the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

The USDA violated rules trying to move agencies out of D.C., new House report finds
Rules including reprogramming department funds and not seeking public opinion were violated, a House Appropriations report says

In its drive to move two research-related agencies out of Washington, the USDA violated rules for reprogramming department funds, never sought public opinion and ignored appropriators’ request for a cost-benefit analysis, according to a House report released Monday.

The report, which will accompany the draft fiscal 2020 spending bill for the Agriculture Department, offers background on why lawmakers included provisions in the bill to bar the use of appropriated funds for moving the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Trump sets tariffs on imports from Mexico to deter migration
Administration says rise in border crossings now represent a national security threat

The Trump administration has turned to tariffs on imports of all Mexican goods as a prod to the Mexican government to step up its efforts to stem the flow of Central American migrants to the U.S. southern border.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told reporters in a conference call Thursday night that the thousands of people crossing the border had reached a crisis point and now constitute a national security threat. They said an average of 4,500 people per day for the past 21 days have come across the border from Mexico.

Administration puts House on notice for a pre-August NAFTA vote
But top Democrats say they won’t be rushed in negotiations over new trade deal

The Trump administration on Thursday gave Congress a 30-day notice of its intent to send lawmakers implementing legislation for a vote on the proposed trade pact that would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The draft statement of administration action is required under Trade Promotion Authority and signals President Donald Trump plans to push for votes on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement before the August recess.

U.S.-China trade fight fuels uncertainty as Beijing retaliates
The new round of tariffs would mean all imported Chinese goods entering the U.S. face duties

The future of U.S.-China trade talks is uncertain as the Trump administration moves to impose new tariffs on $300 billion of imported consumer and industrial goods from China, and U.S. companies prepare for higher costs of doing business.

The new round of tariffs would mean all imported Chinese goods entering the U.S. face duties imposed under Section 301 of 1974 trade legislation. In 2018, the U.S. imported $540 billion of Chinese products. The Section 301 tariffs currently apply to $250 billion in goods from China.

Higher tariffs on Chinese goods spark call for Congress to intervene
CQ on Congress podcast, Episode 152

The continuing damage to businesses and farmers from the trade stand off between China and the U.S. is a sign that Congress needs to reinsert itself into the trade policy-making process again, argues Clark Packard, a trade policy counsel at the R Street Institute, a center-right think tank. He warns that boosting tariffs on Chinese imports "has the potential to spiral out of control.'' And CQ Roll Call's Ellyn Ferguson explains where legislation currently pending in Congress stands.

A Mexican tomato beef could lead to a bigger trade battle
Florida tomato-growing groups have said a series of pricing agreements failed to ensure Mexico did not undercut U.S. growers

The Commerce Department is expected to decide Tuesday to end the U.S.-Mexico tomato agreement, giving Florida tomato growers a long-sought victory and fueling another potential U.S. trade dispute with its southern neighbor.

The department gave Mexico a 90-day notice in February that the U.S. planned to withdraw from the most recent agreement negotiated between the two countries in 2013 and restart an investigation into allegations by Florida tomato growers that their Mexican counterparts are selling goods below fair market prices.

Trump weighs tariffs or quotas on uranium imports
The nuclear power industry argues import limits would bring higher costs for electricity producers and force some out of business

President Donald Trump is considering a Commerce Department report on whether imported uranium ore poses a threat to U.S. national security and the domestic production of nuclear power.

The president will weigh whether to impose tariffs or quotas on imported uranium following claims by the uranium mining industry that limits on foreign uranium imports are necessary to aid a shrinking industry. The nuclear power industry, meanwhile, argues import limits would bring higher costs for electricity producers and force some out of business.

Hemp concerns and trade jitters top agriculture appropriations hearing
The Agriculture Department’s request includes cuts to research, rural housing and international humanitarian food programs

Senate appropriators had trade woes and the promise of industrial hemp on their minds Thursday as they sought assurances from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue of better times for farmers in their states.

Perdue testified before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on the president’s $15.7 billion request for discretionary funding for the Agriculture Department. The request is more than $4.2 billion lower than the enacted level for fiscal 2019 and includes cuts to research, rural housing, international humanitarian food programs and other areas popular with lawmakers.

Mexican official rejects Democratic effort to reopen new NAFTA
“Reopening it is as good as killing it,” said Jesús Seade, Mexican foreign affairs undersecretary for North America

A top Mexican official Thursday ruled out renegotiating the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to address Democratic concerns about labor and pharmaceutical provisions.

“Reopening it is as good as killing it,” said Jesús Seade, Mexican foreign affairs undersecretary for North America.

Challenging food stamps rule, Rep. Marcia Fudge points to Hill workers
“Even this government doesn’t pay them enough to make a living”

Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia L. Fudge on Wednesday challenged the Agriculture Department’s premise for a rule that would restrict food stamp benefits for some working poor, using as an example employees who clean Capitol Hill office buildings or serve lawmakers food in the cafeterias.

“Even this government doesn’t pay them enough to make a living,” said Fudge, who chairs the Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations, at a hearing on a proposed USDA rule that would restrict states’ ability to issue waivers for some able-bodied adults without dependents from food stamp time limits and work requirements.

Trump, House Republicans meet to line up support for new NAFTA
The USMCA would replace NAFTA, if simple majorities in the House and Senate approve it.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with a number of House Republicans later Tuesday as the White House steps up efforts to increase support for the proposed trade agreement to replace NAFTA.

The afternoon meeting comes after Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer courted House Democrats earlier this month with closed-door meetings on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. It would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement if simple majorities in the House and Senate approve it.

Last year’s food stamps battle was contentious. This year Trump upped the ante
The Trump administration budget wants food stamp recipients under 65 to have work requirements

The Trump administration would expand the pool of adult food stamp recipients subject to work, job-training or community service requirements to include people up to age 65, according to fiscal 2020 budget documents released Monday.

The proposal is broader than provisions in last year’s contentious House farm bill that called for applying work requirements under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, to able-bodied adults between the ages 18 and 59 with no dependents or with children older than 6. The proposal would have raised the age limit for adults subject to the work requirement from age 49.

Lawmakers are bracing for a Commerce Dept. report on car import tariffs
The department has sent Trump its report on whether or not to impose new duties on imported vehicles

As President Donald Trump studies a Commerce Department report on the impact of car imports, lawmakers and industry groups are bracing for yet another hit on trade.

On Sunday, the Commerce Department sent Trump its long-awaited report on whether or not to impose new duties on imported vehicles under a national security rationale. The report’s contents have not been released to the public or apparently to members of Congress.

Canada and Mexico will act on new NAFTA once tariffs end, Grassley says
Country officials reaffirmed opposition to tariffs on steel and aluminum imports meetings last week

Mexican and Canadian officials are serious about their countries not ratifying the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement unless the Trump administration ends steel and aluminum tariffs on their products, Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley said Tuesday.

Grassley, R-Iowa, said the Mexican ambassador and the Canadian Foreign Affairs minister in meetings last week with him reaffirmed their countries’ opposition to the continuation of the 25 percent steel tariff and the 10 percent levy on aluminum imports.

Lawmakers, businesses warn of long-term damage of tariffs
“Tit-for-tat tariffs as a negotiating tactic are very, very dangerous”

The Trump administration may have pushed trading partners to come to the negotiating table with tariffs, but a Delaware soybean farmer and a Virginia distillery owner say business people like them are paying a price for the tactic.

At a Wednesday press conference by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, Senate Republicans Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin joined Democrats Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Mark Warner of Virginia in decrying the tariffs, which they said are squeezing businesses and could eventually take a bite out of the U.S. economy. Tariffs Hurt the Heartland represents 150 organizations from several industries.

Trump widens ‘buy American’ rule to infrastructure projects
The use of American-made products would apply to contracts, subcontracts, purchase orders and subawards

The Trump administration will use a new executive order to expand “Buy American” requirements to infrastructure projects that receive federal financing as a way to boost the use of American-made products and support U.S. manufacturing and jobs, White House adviser Peter Navarro said Thursday.

“These programs create good manufacturing jobs at good wages and thereby help lift workers into middle class prosperity,” Navarro said.

Democrats propose legal status for undocumented immigrant farmworkers
Legislation would protect workers from deportation, ease labor shortages, proponents say

Two California Democrats filed legislation Thursday that would give undocumented immigrant farmworkers and their families a path to legal resident status and possibly U.S. citizenship.

The legislation by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Zoe Lofgren is designed to ease agricultural worker shortages and protect undocumented workers already in the United States from deportation. The bills come as the nation grapples with an extended partial government shutdown fueled by an impasse between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over funding for a border wall and broader differences over immigration policies.

States scramble to get February food stamps out amid shutdown

State and county workers spent the weekend gathering information needed to make sure 38 million low-income people receive their February food stamp benefits early despite a partial federal government shutdown.

The Agriculture Department prompted the flurry of activity when it announced last week that it would tap the remaining budget authority in an expired continuing resolution to provide states $4.8 billion to cover February benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.