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 WydenSunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight House passes measure blocking IRS from revoking churches' tax-exempt status over political activity Senators introduce bipartisan bill to improve IRS MORE (D-Ore.) and Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia On The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy 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.

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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."