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Chairman Smith Opening Statement: Hearing on the Biden Admin’s 2023 Trade Agenda

March 24, 2023

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) delivered the following statement urging the Biden Administration to stand up for American workers, families, farmers, and job creators, build on USMCA’s progress, hold
the Chinese Communist Party accountable, strengthen our critical supply chains, and restore American leadership in the world.

As prepared for delivery.

Ambassador Tai, thank you for appearing here today. It is my pleasure to welcome you back to this Committee, where you served with distinction.


“As you know, American families need results. They have lost two months of wages in the Biden economy, wholesale prices are continuing to weigh on small businesses, and our economy continues to struggle. Making matters worse, President Biden has left American workers on the sidelines, surrendered our economic advantage to China, and refused to consult with Congress.


“To be clear: a Country that cannot supply their own demand for food, energy and medicine but must instead rely on other nations to fulfill those basic needs, they are no longer independent. . . but they are politically dependent.


“Given that this is your first time appearing before the Ways and Means Committee in the new Republican majority, I believe today’s hearing is an opportunity to establish a new path forward to put American workers first and hold China accountable. U.S. trade policy has historically been bipartisan. For example, President Trump’s successful USMCA strengthened the trade relationships between North American countries and gave us stronger enforcement mechanisms to stand up for American workers. I’m glad to see some positive developments with regard to enforcement to ensure fairness for American farmers and energy producers competing in Canada and Mexico. But the American people expect us to go further and to use the tools at our disposal to level the playing field for our workers, farmers, and job creators.


“Without a trade agenda that puts workers and jobs first, the United States is falling behind China and other competitors. China is forging ahead with an aggressive trade agenda that cheats America, shapes the global playing field in its favor, and threatens key American supply chains and the livelihoods of American farmers and workers.


“But rather than lead on trade, the Biden Administration’s tax and trade policies surrender the world’s customers to China and allow it to profit using taxpayer dollars.


“The U.S. must be clear about the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses and predatory trade practices and work to stop them. The Phase One Agreement negotiated by President Trump included specific enforcement provisions. Yet for some reason, the Biden Administration has yet to provide a comprehensive accounting of China’s compliance.


“Ambassador Tai, this should be a no-brainer.


“In the meantime, this Committee is prepared to take common-sense steps to strengthen our supply chains and reduce our dependence on China. That includes more U.S. production and deeper cooperation with allies. But during hearings in West Virginia and in Oklahoma, witnesses representing America’s farmers, energy producers, and manufacturers told the Ways and Means Committee that they are hamstrung by red tape and the Biden Administration’s new taxes. They deserve better.


“The Biden Administration unfortunately has refused to recognize that the Constitution requires Congress be at the center of U.S. trade policy. Through so-called “trade frameworks” that sidestep Congress and fail to establish durable agreements, this Administration is fueling the supply chain crisis and plunging American workers, farmers, and manufacturers into prolonged uncertainty. Endless dialogues and frameworks are no substitute for exercising Congress’s constitutional authority – and giving the American people a voice – over trade. In order to succeed, this Administration must recognize that Congress is in the driver’s seat in setting priorities and deciding whether to approve any trade agreements. And trade at its core function should be used to benefit the American people and increase the wealth of our nation and our economy. Trade plans are only worthwhile so much as they accomplish those goals and advance the well-being of the American people.


“Ambassador, I’m optimistic that we can work together and deliver real results. Together, we can stand up for workers, farmers, and manufacturers, build on USMCA’s progress, hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable, strengthen our critical supply chains, and restore American leadership in the world.”