Ellyn Ferguson

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.

White House to Tighten Cuba Rules on Travel, Business

President Donald Trump plans to outline Friday a tougher stance with Havana by partially tightening travel and business rules that had been eased under the Obama administration to normalize relations with communist Cuba.

The changes were made with input from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American and a harsh critic of the Cuban government. But even senior administration officials admitted in a briefing with reporters Thursday that “You can’t put the genie back into the bottle,” referring to some Obama-era policies that have become popular.

Commodities Agency Gets Cool Reception on Funding Bump Request

The acting chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission is asking for a funding bump above the White House’s fiscal 2018 proposal, a request being declined by Republican agriculture policymakers despite their endorsing the agency’s message of keeping a balance between regulatory enforcement and vibrant futures and derivatives markets.

California’s David Valadao, the No. 2 Republican on the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, brushed aside J. Christopher Giancarlo’s $281.5 million request for fiscal 2018 at a hearing on Thursday. Valadao, said the panel would focus on President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 request of $250 million.

Ep. 48: Why Trump is Slow-Walking His Trade Policy
The Week Ahead

President Donald Trump is taking his time reshaping his trade policies, says CQ Roll Call's trade reporter Ellyn Ferguson. She provides valuable insight on where things stand with the president’s campaign pledges to rip up NAFTA and officially label China as a currency manipulator — neither of which has happened.

 

Agriculture Nominee Moves Closer to Confirmation Hearing
OGE releases Sonny Perdue’s ethics agreement and financial disclosures

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue agreed to extricate himself from a web of interests and restructure two family trusts to remove himself and his wife from active involvement if he wins confirmation as Agriculture secretary, according his disclosure documents at the Office of Government Ethics.

The release of Perdue’s financial disclosure and ethics agreement sets the stage for the Senate Agriculture Committee to schedule a confirmation hearing. The committee said last Friday it had received Perdue’s long awaited official nomination papers, nearly two months after President Donald Trump announced he planned to nominate him. It’s unclear if Perdue has completed a committee questionnaire that is typically part of the confirmation process. 

Four Trump Cabinet-Level Picks in Limbo
 

The Senate has yet to consider four nominees for Cabinet-level positions in President Donald Trump’s administration. Here’s a brief rundown on their status....