agriculture

At Trump White House, that elusive China trade deal is always ‘close’
On Oct. 11, president saw final deal in a few weeks. Eight weeks later, talks drag on

A container ship sits docked at the Port of Oakland in May in Oakland, California. The Trump administration has yet to finalize an elusive trade pact with China that has at times shaken global markets. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

ANALYSIS — A trade agreement with China that President Donald Trump boastfully announced nearly two months ago remains stalled, despite a top White House economic adviser’s Friday pledge that a final deal is “close.”

On Thursday, the often-verbose president was notably succinct when a reporter asked about the on-again/off-again/on-again China trade negotiations, including whether he would follow through on a threat to slap 15 percent tariffs on $160 billion worth of Chinese-made items on Dec. 15.

FDA nominee faces bipartisan grilling on Trump's vaping plan
Stephen Hahn pressed on whether he would work to curb spike in youth vapers

Stephen Hahn, nominee to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Medical executive Stephen Hahn faced a bipartisan grilling in his nomination hearing Wednesday about whether he would, if confirmed to lead the Food and Drug Administration, challenge the president to release a promised tobacco flavor ban.

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ranking member Patty Murray, D-Wash., pressed Hahn on whether he would “stand up” to the White House in order to curb a sharp spike in young people's exposure to nicotine through the growing vaping industry, including the rise of Juul Labs Inc. 

Trump has no China trade pact, but he does have a signing location in mind
2020 battleground state of Iowa is president’s preferred spot

Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa has raised concerns about a possible trade pact with China. President Donald Trump might sign it with Xi Jinping in his home state. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump gave no indication Friday he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are closer to signing a “Phase One” trade pact, but he does have a place in mind where a signing event for it could happen — a battleground state that has borne the brunt of the U.S.-China trade war.

“It could even be in Iowa,” he told reporters on the White House South Lawn as he departed for a campaign rally in Mississippi. “I would do it in the U.S. He would too,” he added, speaking for Xi.

White House scrambles to get Trump, Xi together for trade pact signing after Chile axes summit
President and aides are eager for another foreign policy win amid Dems’ impeachment probe

A shipping container is offloaded from a Hong Kong based CSCL East China Sea container ship at the Port of Oakland, Calif., earlier this year. Wildfires in Chile forced the cancellation of a summit where President Trump and Chinese President Xi had hoped to sign a trade pact. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

Eager for another foreign policy win, White House officials are scrambling for a Plan B for President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign a “phase one” trade pact after Chile canceled an Asia-Pacific economic summit.

“We’re still working on it,” acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told CQ Roll Call as he exited the office of Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, where West Wing aides have been discussing alternative plans.

USDA's hemp rules open door to states to set up regulations
McConnell led drive to legalize the crop

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue calls hemp a new opportunity for farmers. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Tuesday his department was opening "a new economic opportunity for America’s farmers” with the issuance of long-awaited rules governing legal hemp production and a path for state and tribal governments to submit regulatory plans for review.

The USDA is setting the minimum rules, allowing states to impose more restrictive requirements. One official said the department would "test drive" the interim rule in the 2020 growing season and then adopt a final rule.

White House ‘does not seek confrontation with China,’ Pence says
‘There’s no deal with China,’ GOP Sen. Rick Scott says, breaking with Trump on trade pact

Vice President Mike Pence walks through Statuary Hall on his way to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office in the Capitol in January. On Thursday, he laid out the Trump administration's China trade deal and its policy toward its top economic and military rival. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday credited President Donald Trump with altering U.S.-China relations “forever,” saying the decades during which “we rebuilt China … are over.”

“Past administrations have come and gone; all were aware of these abuses. None were willing to upset the established Washington interests who not only permitted these abuses, but profited from them,” Pence said during what his office billed as a major policy speech. “The political establishment was not only silent in the face of China’s economic aggression and human rights abuses, but enabled them.”

Pot restrictions add risks and costs to hemp growing
Cannabis cousins hemp, marijuana are often hard to tell apart

Hemp flower on display at the Tennessee Grown booth at the Southern Hemp Expo in Franklin, Tenn., on Sept. 7, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Hemp and marijuana, both cannabis plants, are hard to tell apart. The average person and law enforcement officer can struggle to tell the difference in their leaves, buds and flowers. The two plants differ in their levels of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s high. Hemp typically has less than 1 percent, but marijuana can have THC levels up to 30 percent.

More important for many in the hemp industry, however, is a federal law that puts the THC ceiling for legal hemp at 0.3 percent of its dry weight. States can order the destruction of a grower’s entire hemp crop if testing finds the THC exceeds that maximum. The THC ceiling is designed to draw a clear line between the cannabis cousins, hemp and marijuana.

Hemp industry growth hints at potential field of dreams
“Maybe, just maybe, hemp could be a really big deal sometime in the future,” McConnell says

An attendee stops at the Hemp Magazine booth at the Southern Hemp Expo in Franklin, Tenn., on Sept. 7, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Mitch McConnell saw a potential replacement for tobacco in 2014, as the federal program to buy out tobacco farmers was ending. McConnell got provisions into a farm bill allowing states to license and monitor hemp production. The Kentucky Republican, now as majority leader, followed through in 2018, using another farm bill to take hemp off the controlled substances list.

Kentucky in 2019 is one of the leading hemp producers. Vote Hemp, an industry advocacy organization, says the state has licensed an estimated 60,000 acres for production. That’s still a fraction of the 58 million acres of tobacco the Agriculture Department forecast Kentucky would harvest in 2019, but it’s almost 12 percent of the Vote Hemp’s estimate of the U.S. acreage licensed to hemp.

Trump announces 'substantial' trade deal with China - but it's weeks from being final
U.S. won't raise some existing tariffs to 30 percent, Mnuchin says

A container ship sits docked at the Port of Oakland on May 13, 2019, in Oakland, California. Chinese and U.S. officials, after trading tariffs and barbs for months, are again negotiating toward a potential trade pact. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Friday announced his administration has reached a “substantial” trade pact with China that includes some backing off of tariffs, but he signaled work remains to finalize the elusive pact.

The Trump administration has agreed to keep existing tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese-made goods at current levels rather than raising them to 30 percent, as Trump had threatened to when talks previously stalled.

Trump says he no longer views Pelosi as speaker. He can’t take anyone’s gavel
Trump denies Ukraine ‘pressure,’ tries to demote Pelosi over impeachment inquiry

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has again gotten under President Trump’s skin — this time with an impeachment inquiry he calls a “witch hunt.” (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Refusing to back away from a major political scandal, President Donald Trump undermined Speaker Nancy Pelosi while lobbing new allegations of corruption at one of Democratic 2020 frontrunner Joe Biden’s sons.

The president told reporters Wednesday there “was no pressure” during a July call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy to force him to investigate the Bidens. He also denied asking Pelosi during a Tuesday phone call to cool the impeachment push, saying, “She’s been taken over by the radical left.”