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 WydenSenate Dems introduce bill to keep DACA info private Congress should elevate those trapped in the gap – support ELEVATE Act IRS shutdown plan fails to quell worries MORE (D-Ore.) and Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoOvernight Health Care: HHS chief refuses to testify on family separations | Grassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices | PhRMA spends record on lobbying in 2018 Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions Deutsche Bank targeted by Dems over Trump ties 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 lawmakers — Sens. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziSenate passes criminal justice overhaul, handing Trump a win Senate votes to end debate on criminal justice reform bill America needs more accountants in Congress MORE (R-Wyo.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate Dems raise concerns about shutdown's impact on assistance to taxpayers Durbin signals he will run for reelection Coal supporter Manchin named top Dem on Senate Energy Committee MORE (D-Mich.), Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight Senators offer measure naming Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi slaying MORE (R-Ga.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Lawmakers worry as 'deepfakes' spread | New intel strategy sees threats from emerging tech | Google fined M under EU data rules | WhatsApp moves to curb misinformation On The Money: Shutdown Day 32 | Senate to vote on dueling funding measures | GOP looks to change narrative | Dems press Trump on recalled workers | Kudlow predicts economy will 'snap back' after shutdown Overnight Energy: Polls highlight growing worries about climate change | Watchdog asked to probe recall of furloughed Interior workers | Canada allows preliminary work on Keystone XL 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."