Nine Dem senators say hiring freeze hurting trade enforcement

Nine Dem senators say hiring freeze hurting trade enforcement
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Nine Democratic senators urged the White House on Thursday to end a federal hiring freeze for employees working on U.S. trade enforcement efforts.

The Senate Finance Committee members sent a letter to President Trump calling on him to reverse course for federal government employees responsible for improving the nation's trade enforcement. 

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“During your campaign you described trade enforcement as the center of your plan for trade reform,” they wrote.

“Freezing hiring for the very agencies that will be essential to fulfilling this objective runs contrary to your own campaign promises and undermines long-running bipartisan efforts to enhance trade enforcement throughout the federal government.”

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Trump announced the federal hiring freeze on Jan. 23. 

Congress cleared a customs enforcement measure in 2015 aimed a tackling many issues within the system. 

The lawmakers said that, for example, producers of steel and softwood lumber are relying on investigators and attorneys at the Commerce Department to address unfair trade practices harming U.S. workers and communities.

They also pointed to the need for trade specialists and border agents at Customs and Border Protection to investigate companies that are failing to pay import duties

The senators said "the timing of the freeze is particularly problematic given that several of these agencies are implementing new enforcement tools" that were in the customs enforcement measure.