Ellyn Ferguson

House GOP Farm Bill Passes; Compromise With Senate Next
Senate bill expected on the floor next week

The House on Thursday passed, 213-211, the Republican-written farm bill that seeks to restructure the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a month after a stinging defeat when the legislation became embroiled in an unrelated battle over immigration legislation.

The vote “was about providing certainty to farmers & ranchers who have been struggling under a 5yr recession & about providing our neighbors in need w/ more than just a hand out, but a hand up,″ House Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway wrote on Twitter after the bill passed. There was no floor debate.

Fight Over Food Stamps Among Big Hurdles Facing Farm Bill
As a fall deadline looms, Congress keeps stewing and squabbling

If everything goes according to plan this month, House leaders will round up the necessary Republican votes to pass the chamber’s 2018 farm bill after an unexpected defeat on the floor put the legislation on hold.

The failed May 18 vote marked the second time in five years that a farm bill ran into obstacles in the House. In the Senate, meanwhile, leaders have indicated they want to pass the bipartisan legislation by the July Fourth recess.

Corker Seeks to Push Back on Trump Trade Actions
Tennessee Republican wants congressional vote on future tariffs involving national security

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker plans to make a pitch to Republican colleagues at the Senate lunches Tuesday on a proposal to require a congressional vote on future tariffs involving national security before they can take effect.

The Tennessee senator said he’s found Democrats who are interested in the proposal, but he would not identify them. The fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill is a likely vehicle for the proposal, he said, “because it deals with national security. That would be the best vehicle.”

Allies, Lawmakers Brace for Fallout of Steel, Aluminum Tariffs
“‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again,’” Sasse says

Mexico, Canada and the European Union threatened to retaliate with tariffs on American-made goods after the Trump administration announced that it would reimpose steel and aluminum tariffs, as it tries to pressure them to crack down on imports of the metals from China, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday.

The tariffs will take effect Friday. U.S. companies that import steel from Canada, Mexico and the 28-nation EU will pay an additional 25 percent duty on steel and a 10 percent duty on aluminum.

Podcast: Trump Misses NAFTA Deadline
CQ on Congress, Episode 103

President Donald Trump's trade agenda is in disarray after his negotiators failed to reach a deal to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico by May 17, when congressional Republicans said they would need it in order to ratify it by year's end. CQ trade reporter Ellyn Ferguson explains what is holding Trump's team up.

Farm Bill Gets Two Days of House Rules Committee Consideration
Work requirements for SNAP among contentious topics on tap

The House Rules Committee will devote Tuesday and Wednesday to the 2018 farm bill as members plow through a long list of amendments, raising the possibility of heated debate before it faces a floor vote later this week.

At the Tuesday afternoon session, the panel has scheduled a general discussion from House Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway of Texas and ranking member Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota on the five-year farm bill, which would set policy for nutrition, conservation, crop insurance and other programs. The current farm bill expires Sept. 30.

Farm Bill Ties Food Stamps to Work, Adjusts Farm Aid
Democrats worry work mandate is designed to push people out of program

The House Agriculture Committee released its 2018 farm bill Thursday with proposals to reshape the nation’s largest domestic food aid program, consolidate conservation efforts and tweak farm aid.

The bill arrives amid controversy over its focus on shifting funding within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, into work and training programs.

Trump Notes Possible Damage to Farmers in Bid to Expand Tariffs
President provides no details on nature of any assistance

President Donald Trump directed the Agriculture secretary to offset damages that farmers, a part of his rural political base, are likely to face as he appeared to double down Thursday night on tariffs against Chinese imports.

Trump’s directive to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue comes as the House Ways and Means Committee plans an April 12 hearing to examine the effects on the U.S. economy of tariffs Trump imposed in March on steel and aluminum imports and the potential effects of $50 billion in proposed tariffs on Chinese-made goods.

Republicans Grouse Over Tariffs but Lack Plan to Cool Trade Tiff
As China retaliates, lawmakers air unease without threatening to counter Trump

When lawmakers return from recess next week, they are likely to be besieged by various industries seeking protection from the economic fallout of the trade fight between the Trump administration and China that threatens to impose $50 billion in retaliatory duties on U.S. exports.

But the Republican-controlled Congress may not be able to do more than collectively wring its hands, in contrast to the leverage lawmakers have under Trade Promotion Authority to accept or reject a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement.

White House Says Revised South Korea Trade Pact Within Reach

South Korea would limit its steel exports to the United States and open its markets to more American-made cars and trucks under a preliminary agreement to revise the 2012 bilateral trade deal between the countries, the White House said Tuesday.

Under the pact, which still needs to be finalized, South Korea would allow U.S. automakers to double their vehicle exports to 50,000 a year, while Seoul would win a permanent exemption from the 25 percent tariffs on steel imports President Donald Trump announced March 8. It's unclear when the final agreement could be reached.

China Trade Tariffs Stir Support, Fears and Retaliation Threat
‘China is not afraid of and will not recoil from a trade war’

Lawmakers offered mixed reactions to the Trump administration’s decision Thursday to apply tariffs on nearly 1,300 products imported to the United States, a move Beijing responded to by announcing that it may increase tariffs on $3 billion of American goods.

China’s Commerce Ministry called on Washington to reach a negotiated settlement  “as soon as possible” but gave no deadline, The Associated Press and other news agencies reported. It said its tentative measurers were in response to the tariffs announced March 8 on steel and aluminum imports.

Democrats Put Farm Bill Talks on Hold
Minority party says it can’t negotiate until it sees text and other info

For those tracking the farm bill, the top question this week is whether the House Agriculture Committee chairman and ranking member can reopen talks that stalled last week, after Democrats balked at possible cuts to the food stamp program.

Rep. Collin C. Peterson, the top committee Democrat, said Thursday he would heed his colleagues’ request that he stop negotiations until Chairman K. Michael Conaway gives members the text of the proposed farm bill, along with Congressional Budget Office cost estimates and impact assessments.

Beer, Auto and Plane Industries Could Be Hurt by Tariffs
Trump, Ross keep drumbeat for imposing tariffs while industries fret

While the Trump administration on Friday continued to downplay the potential economic effects of imposing double-digit tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, experts continued to worry about widespread effects throughout the economy. 

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross went on CNBC Friday to say market plunges in the wake of Thursday's tariff announcement were overblown and the economic effect would amount to little for consumers. 

Trump Says He’ll Impose Tough Steel, Aluminum Tariffs
Business groups, allies, congressional free traders not on board

President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he intends to impose steep tariffs next week on all steel and aluminum imports to protect domestic manufacturers from cheaper foreign products, a move metal producers and their unions support as steel-using industries brace for higher costs and loss of jobs.

“We’ll be signing it next week. And you’ll have protection for a long time in a while. You’ll have to regrow your industries, that’s all I’m asking,” the president said, according to the White House pool report. 

As NAFTA Talks Resume, New Business Poll Backs Staying in Pact
President meets with key lawmaker over future of pact

Amid the latest round of NAFTA talks and a White House meeting with a key lawmaker on trade, a poll released by a business group Monday found that a majority of its members believe that the U.S. economy would be adversely affected if President Donald Trump follows through on his threats to withdraw from the trade agreement.

The policy poll conducted by the National Association for Business Economics comes a day after the United States, Canada and Mexico met in Mexico City for the seventh round of talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement. The session ends March 5.

Trump Says US Has Turned Page on Trade
“The era of economic surrender is totally over”

President Donald Trump repeated his threats to punish trade partners in his State of the Union address Tuesday and echoed his World Economic Forum message that his administration will battle other partners it thinks are using predatory trade practices against U.S. companies and the American economy.

In brief comments about trade, Trump offered a little red meat to voters who backed him largely because of his “America First” push and mistrust of international trade deals.

Podcast: Trump's Tangled War on Trade
CQ on Congress, Episode 88

CQ trade reporter Ellyn Ferguson looks at whether President Donald Trump will impose more tariffs and withdraw from more international trade agreements in 2018, or pursue a more moderate path.


White House Backs Expanding Security Review of Foreign Deals

Pending legislation that would expand the reach of a panel’s national security review of foreign business transactions would not discourage foreign investment in the United States or business deals with U.S. companies, Trump administration officials told a Senate committee Thursday.

Heath P. Tarbert, assistant secretary of the Treasury for International Markets and Investment Policy, said bipartisan legislation by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would strengthen one line of defense against adversarial foreign interests gaining access to sensitive military information or important current and emerging technology.

Trump Heads Down to the Farm (Bureau)
Address to convention will be first by a U.S. president since George H.W. Bush

President Donald Trump addresses the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national convention on Monday — the first president to attend since George H.W. Bush in 1992.

The president will discuss key points of an administration report the White House says is designed to boost the rural economy.

Trump Keeps NAFTA Drama High With Favorite Line: ‘We’ll See’
President says countries could do ‘something very creative’

Speaking beside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Donald Trump held his cards close on renegotiating a major trade deal. Instead, the U.S. leader deployed his favorite answer that keeps the drama high but commits him to nothing: “We’ll see what happens.”

At the start of the first of two closed-door meetings with Trudeau on Wednesday, Trump was asked by a reporter if the North American Free Trade Act is as good as dead. Trump, the former “Apprentice” star, opted to flash his reality television chops rather than get into the details or describing any sticking points as U.S., Canadian and Mexican officials try to revamp the 1994 trade pact.