Senators urge quotas on Canadian lumber, consultations with Congress

Senators urge quotas on Canadian lumber, consultations with Congress
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Seven members of the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday called the Trump administration to set quotas on Canadian softwood lumber and closely consult with Congress during negotiations of a final agreement.

Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCongress faces growing health care crisis in Puerto Rico Photos of the Week: Nov. 13-17 Senate panel approves GOP tax plan MORE (D-Ore.) and Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoScott Garrett poses real threat to EXIM Bank, small businesses Usually friendly, GOP may anger big banks with tax plans Overnight Finance: Trump calls for ObamaCare mandate repeal, cuts to top tax rate | Trump to visit Capitol Hill in tax reform push | CBO can't do full score before vote | Bipartisan Senate bill would ease Dodd-Frank rules MORE (R-Idaho) want U.S. trade officials to negotiate a "clean quota" agreement to address the softwood lumber spat with Canada.  

"Any long-term agreement must stop the harmful effects of subsidized and unfairly traded Canadian lumber on fair competition with the U.S. producers," the lawmakers wrote in the letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The lawmakers — Sens. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziGOP senators ask Trump for meeting on biofuels mandate Senate budget just the latest attack on seniors Week ahead: GOP's next steps on tax reform | Fed chief speculation heats up | Senate to vote on disaster relief MORE (R-Wyo.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowRep. Upton won't seek Michigan Senate seat, focuses on reelection The feds need to return to the original intent of foreign investment review GOP campaign committees call on Democrats to return Franken donations MORE (D-Mich.), Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonQuestions loom over Franken ethics probe Senate ethics panel resumes Menendez probe after judge declares mistrial Signs of progress, challenges in fighting Alzheimer's MORE (R-Ga.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny Overnight Tech: Senate Dems want FCC chief recused from Sinclair merger | Tech rallies on Capitol Hill for DACA | Facebook beefs up lobbying ranks Facebook adds two lobbyists amid Russia probe MORE (D-Va.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) — called on U.S. trade officials to hold Canada to their July 2016 commitment to negotiate a new agreement that is “designed to maintain Canadian exports at or below an agreed market share.”

The quota policy has the support of the U.S. Lumber Coalition.

“The U.S. Lumber Coalition applauds the efforts by members of the Senate Finance Committee to push for a fair trade deal, especially the letter’s provision calling for a clean quota agreement to hold Canada to its commitments and maintain a stable, enforceable system,” U.S. Lumber Coalition spokesperson Zoltan van Heyningen said.

"An equitable trade deal will ensure that U.S. lumber companies can compete on a fair playing field, and start to mitigate the damages of subsidized Canadian imports," van Heyningen said.

The members also urged close consultations with the Finance Committee.

“The Senate Finance Committee must be briefed fully and regularly on the details of proposals before they are made to Canada,” the letter said.

“The confidence of the public in any proposed agreement can only be secured through meaningful engagement with the people’s representatives in Congress.”

The U.S. and Canada are currently negotiating a new softwood lumber agreement.

The Trump administration in April and June levied tariffs on Canadian lumber imports, arguing that their industry is heavily subsidized and hurting the U.S. economy. 

"Completing a fair agreement will support these jobs and the American economy, particularly in rural communities across the nation," the lawmakers wrote.

"It is also an issue of fairness in trade and competition, a principle that must be upheld and backed by enforcement of U.S. trade laws."