Lighthizer set to testify before Senate Finance on trade next week

Lighthizer set to testify before Senate Finance on trade next week
© Greg Nash

U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerChinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks MORE will testify on Thursday at the Senate Finance Committee on the Trump administration’s trade agenda.

Lighthizer, the nation’s top trade official, is expected to face questions from the panel about President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE’s plan to levy hefty tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel, among other trade priorities.

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“I have made clear that tariffs are nothing but a tax on American businesses and consumers and I look forward to discussing with Amb. Lighthizer how the administration can mitigate the damage they cause,” said Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award Medal of Freedom to economist Arthur Laffer Trump gambles in push for drug import proposal Biden's role in Anita Hill hearings defended by witness not allowed to testify MORE (R-Utah).

Last week, Trump announced steep tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum over national security issues. 

So far, Canada and Mexico, both partners with the United States in the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement are exempt from the policy that is expected to go into effect next week.

Earlier this month, Hatch wrote a letter to the president urging him not to implement tariffs on steel and aluminum imports because of their potential to undermine the success of tax reform.

Hatch said he expects the Finance panel to ask Lighthizer more about how the Trump administration would use an extension of trade promotion authority, which it has requested as part of its trade policy agenda.

Lighthizer is set to appear before the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, the day before Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossRoss downplays possibility of deal between U.S., China emerging at possible meeting of leaders Ross downplays possibility of deal between U.S., China emerging at possible meeting of leaders Anticipation builds for final Supreme Court rulings MORE will talk to the House panel.

The hearings come at a time when lawmakers on Capitol Hill are questioning the administration's moves on trade amid a faster growing economy.