Here’s a quick monitor of Washington farm and trade policy issues from DTN’s well-placed observer.House Members Urge Use Omnibus Spending Bill to Block WOTUS Rule
Blocking the controversial waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule via the omnibus spending bill for Fiscal 2016 is being called for by a host of House lawmakers via a letter sent to House leadership as well as leaders of the House Appropriations Committee. The letter was sent by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and the panel's Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, and signed by a total of 90 House members.
"As you know, the [waters of the U.S.] Rule is nothing more than a federal power grab by the EPA and flies in the face of two Supreme Court decisions, wreaking havoc on farmers, businesses and families," the letter said, and cited U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' documents which described the rule as "fatally flawed," and said it would "broaden EPA's jurisdiction of wetlands well beyond Congressional intent."
The House has already passed a provision which would send the WOTUS rule back to agencies to be redone, the letter noted. "Not only Congress, but nearly 90 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits regarding the legality of the rule, including 31 state governments, farm organizations, energy producers and manufacturing groups," the letter said. The rule was jointly written by the EPA and the Corps and took effect Aug. 28, but it has been stayed nationwide by the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
***Lawmaker says House TPP Vote Could Take Place in May or June
House floor consideration and a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement could occur in late spring or early summer following the release of a U.S. International Trade Commission report on the impact of the trade agreement on the U.S. economy in mid-May, House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert, R-Wash., told Bloomberg BNA.
The timing of a vote on the TPP deal is ultimately up to House leadership, which may be reluctant to bring such a hot-button issue to a floor vote in an election year. A vote is not expected until after the ITC report is released on May 18, and is likely to occur much later than that.
The TPP is a major legislative goal for Reichert, whose native Washington State is the most trade-dependent state in the nation. Washington state-based companies, including Microsoft and Boeing, stand to benefit greatly from the passage of the TPP deal. Washington State stands to see greater exports of agricultural products including apples, cherries, pears, berries and potatoes, if the TPP comes into effect. Reichert is keen to move the deal forward as soon as possible and said "We need to take advantage of [TPP market access] before it runs too far out into the future or we could lose some of [our] market share," he stated.
Reichert is a co-chairman of the Friends of TPP Caucus and said the Caucus is "in study mode and talking with members who have issues and concerns about some of the language in TPP. We're just going to be moving forward, talking with constituents, talking with members, finding ways we can address these concerns."
The current expectation is that a vote on TPP will not come up in Congress prior to the Nov. 2016 elections and some sources even believe that the action may not take place until after President Obama leaves office in early 2017.
***Washington Insider: Security Aspects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Support for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership tends to come from those who see trade as a means of building jobs without government spending and businesses who see it as a means to expanded markets. However, there is another, very strong reason to support the new proposal, according to a couple of ex-US officials, David Carden, who now is a law firm partner with Jones Day and was formerly U.S. ambassador to ASEAN and David Adelman, now partner with the law firm Reed Smith who once was US Ambassador to Singapore.
Writing for Politico, these trade experts say the President has been working in the Philippines and Malaysia, not only to push for better market access but to strengthen alliances in Asia. His purpose, they say, is to help build the multilateral organizations that are writing the trade rules in that dynamic part of the world. The effort is a key aspect of U.S. national security, they say. This is because trade is one of our most crucial ways to guarantee security, and the new Pacific Rim trade deal Congress is now considering will be a linchpin of the effort.
The TPP, they note, is a comprehensive trade and investment pact among 12 countries representing 40% of the global Gross Domestic Product. All 12 participants are members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation organization, which met in Manila last week One longer-term objective is a future TPP including all 21 APEC countries as well as non-APEC countries such as India and Columbia.
The economic case for the TPP is powerful, the authors say, and supporters are right to stress benefits like economic growth and American jobs. But, an even more compelling aspect of the deal is its potential impact on security.
The provisions in the TPP, and the deeper engagement with the region it will support are crucial to protecting the United States from a wide variety of non-traditional security risks, the authors say. “As diplomats, we saw firsthand the dangers of these often borderless challenges as we worked to ensure the safety of Americans at home and abroad.”
Some of these risks aren’t expressly covered by TPP, but the pact would enhance the capacity of our trading partners to help manage them. Such risks include the possible re-emergence of pandemic diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory System, which was first discovered in Asia and killed thousands as it spread to three dozen countries. The World Bank estimates SARS cost the global economy of $54 billion and that the costs of a future pandemic might be as high as $3 trillion.
Other non-traditional challenges relate to different aspects of human health, such as food security and nutrition, which have a great impact on the productivity of some of the participants. Expediting the flow of goods across borders, increasing productivity and raising the standard of living also will enhance our trading partners’ ability to respond to natural disasters.
The trade deal also addresses some non-traditional risks more explicitly. For example, illegal fishing would be constrained to help meet the nutritional needs of the developing world and thus lessen disruptive human migration. It also aims to reduce deforestation and illegal animal trafficking, which contribute respectively to the effort to curb climate change and zoonotic diseases. Other more explicit benefits include transparency and non-discrimination provisions with regard to state-linked companies and government procurement.
When people describe the TPP as the highest quality trade deal ever negotiated, it’s in part because of these benefits, which haven’t been included in previous free trade agreements.
Greater global interdependence has strong benefits, but also dramatically increases the non-traditional security challenges, the authors note. The new trade pact would help manage those concerns by raising the capital of trading partners and by binding us together in the common cause of promoting a rules-based, sustainable global economy.
The authors see the recent violence in France as a stark reminder that the world is a very dangerous place and the United States needs strong partners to keep Americans safe. Such links also are necessary to fulfill America’s obligation as a leading citizen of the world.
The security aspects of an enormously broad pact like the TPP are difficult to quantify and have been slow to emerge in the wake of the protectionist pleadings of the vocal anti-trade forces in both parties. Nevertheless, it is important that the views and experience of experts like Carden and Adelman are heard and that their insights, and those of others with similar experience be considered as the debate continues, Washington Insider believes.
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