Senate trade bill could come Wednesday

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Leaders on the Senate Finance Committee could introduce fast-track trade legislation as early as Wednesday.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Tuesday that he is planning a Thursday hearing on a so-called fast-track measure, a signal that the long-awaited bill could be ready ahead of time. 

{mosads}“I’m very optimistic,” Hatch told reporters. 

Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Finance panel, also said that negotiations on a trade promotion authority bill are continuing, though he did not put a spin on the talks.

“Chairman Hatch, Chairman [Paul] Ryan and I are talking and the only way I think I can accurately characterize it is that it’s not there yet,” Wyden told reporters. 

Hatch said that Wyden is negotiating a Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) measure — a priority for Democrats — with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). 

TAA has been used in the past to attract Democratic votes for trade promotion authority, which would make it easier for the administration to negotiate trade deals be preventing Congress from amending them.

“We know that TAA is going to have to pass,” Hatch said. “I’m not going to support it but it’s going to have to pass. 

Hatch is also hoping to have his panel consider several bills that give developing countries preferential treatment to the U.S. market, such as the  Generalized System of Preferences and the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.

Hatch said he hopes to have a markup next week that will include all the trade bills. He said the hearing on Thursday will take place even if a fast-track bill isn’t introduced.

In February, three lawmakers — Reps. Sander Levin (Mich.) and Adam Smith (Wash.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) — unveiled TAA legislation that helps workers who have lost their jobs because of global trade. 

That legislation would extend the trade program, which expires at the end of this year, through 2020.


Tags Fast track Orrin Hatch Ron Wyden Trade trade promotion authority

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