Ellyn Ferguson

What lawmakers can do about gun violence, and helping black families save ancestral lands
CQ on Congress, Episode 165

Public pressure on lawmakers is growing across the country to reduce gun violence, but Congress may only be able to pass incremental legislation, explains CQ Roll Call’s legal affairs writer Todd Ruger.

In the second segment of this podcast, we explore how Congress and a South Carolina center are trying to address the loss of land and wealth, particularly among African Americans, in what is commonly referred to as Heirs Property. Josh Walden of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation in South Carolina discusses how thousands of acres of land, from the south to Appalachia, may be in dispute because of the lack of legal records.

Democrats say support for new NAFTA depends on Trump
Trump administration will have to offer House Democrats some changes

Congressional action on the United States-Mexico-Canada trade pact to replace the NAFTA agreement will depend on whether the Trump administration offers House Democrats changes that will achieve “substantial and real” improvements to the agreement, a trade working group said in a report to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“It is time for the administration to present its proposals and to show its commitment to passing the new NAFTA and delivering on its own promises,” the group of Democrats wrote.

‘Enter hemp with extreme caution,’ Kentucky farmer tells Senate panel
Agriculture Committee hears about the lows induced by hemp production

Farmers facing low prices and mired in trade uncertainty see hemp as the next big cash crop, but a Kentucky veteran of six hemp harvests warned it’s a demanding plant to produce.

“Enter hemp with extreme caution,” Brian Furnish told the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday.

USDA seeks to narrow eligibility for food stamps
Proposal looks to tighten eligibility for people who receive noncash benefits

The Trump administration will push ahead with a proposal to tighten food stamp eligibility for people who receive certain noncash benefits from a federal welfare program, a move that could end aid for up to 3 million people.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the draft rule published in Tuesday’s Federal Register will end what he and congressional Republicans say is a loophole that allows people with gross incomes above 130 percent of the poverty level to become eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and potentially qualify for food stamps through the program.

USDA official says agencies can find new staff after they move to Kansas City
Research chief also disputes reports that USDA is burying climate science research

A top Agriculture Department research official told a Senate committee that two agencies slated for a contested move out of Washington can recover from an exodus of employees and denied media reports the department has hidden agency documents on climate change.

Scott Hutchins, deputy undersecretary for research, education and economics, said Thursday that many employees eligible to move to the Kansas City metropolitan area with either the Economic Research Service or National Institute of Food and Agriculture have notified USDA that they will stay in Washington. Employees who have agreed to move have until Sept. 30 to make the trek west, where the agencies will operate out of a temporary space until USDA finds a long-term landlord.

Envoy says Mexico ready for Congress’ questions on trade deal
Mexico is committed to enforcing labor and environmental protections

Mexican officials believe they have strong arguments to assure Congress that their country is committed to enforcing labor and environmental protections in the proposed replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexican Ambassador Martha Barcena Coqui said Thursday.

Mexico is willing to take on the role of answering lawmakers’ questions, but Barcena said at an event hosted by CQ Roll Call that the Trump administration has the ultimate responsibility for winning congressional approval for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Assessing the trade talks with China
CQ on Congress podcast, Episode 160

In this episode of CQ on Congress, former U.S. trade negotiator Wendy Cutler explains what each side of the U.S.-China trade talks is looking to gain. Then trade economist Christine McDaniel walks us through how some U.S. companies are coping with the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration. And CQ Roll Call's trade reporter Mark Bocchetti discusses the process that allows U.S. companies to seek exclusions from the tariffs.

House Democrats call for revival of meat labeling law
Country-of-origin labeling calls beef and pork products to show where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered

A meat labeling law repealed three years ago may be making a comeback as some lawmakers call for it to be added to the proposed trade pact designed to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

The country-of-origin labeling requirement, known as COOL, called for labels on beef and pork products to show where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered.

U.S., China to restart trade talks; farmers, Huawei may gain
Trump said the pause on new tariffs is ‘for the time being‘

The U.S. will restart stalled trade talks with Beijing and delay imposing new tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese imports, President Donald Trump said Saturday.

“We will be continuing to negotiate. We’re going to work with China to where we left off to see if we can make a deal,” Trump said at a news conference in Osaka, Japan, where he and Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a meeting of G-20 leaders.

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.