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Four Press Worthy Moments from Biden’s Trade Representative During the Ways and Means Hearing on the Biden Administration Trade Agenda

March 25, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – When U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai appeared before the Ways and Means Committee on Friday to discuss the President’s trade agenda, she faced tough questions on whether that trade agenda even exists, why the White House is refusing to work with lawmakers despite the Constitution giving Congress legal authority over trade, and the Biden Administration’s failure to hold China accountable despite its predatory trade practices and human rights abuses.


  1. Chairman Smith Extracts a Commitment to Protect American Farmers Against Mexican Infractions of USMCA

Following his letter to USTR urging the Biden Administration to initiate a dispute settlement over Mexico’s ban on American corn, Chairman Smith successfully pressed Ambassador Tai to commit to using the enforcement mechanisms in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to stop Mexico’s ban. Mexico is America’s top export market for corn, so it is critical that American farmers can continue to be able to sell their crop to the Mexican market.

Chairman Smith: “Effective enforcement is required to protect American workers and farmers, and I will insist on moving forward with a dispute settlement if our concerns are not addressed. What are the next steps the Administration is prepared to take to ensure enforcement of USMCA in this matter?

USTR Tai: “All of the tools in the USMCA are there for a reason, and we stand ready to make use of those tools to help us to resolve this issue.

  1. Two Years into the Administration, America has Lost Momentum and Enforcement tools on Trade

The top Biden Administration trade czar insists on bypassing Congress and the American people in creating trade “frameworks,” rather than working with Congress as the Constitution calls for to help American workers, farmers, and secure supply chains. Ambassador Tai justified these changes on the basis of the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, claiming that trade couldn’t be successful any other way – to which Trade Subcommittee Chairman Adrian Smith (NE-03) replied, “If a trading partner were to blatantly go against the science as Mexico has done, then I worry there would not be any tools for enforcement” given the Biden Administration’s approach to trade that ignores congressional approval.


  1. The Biden Administration Is Refusing to Recognize Congress’ Constitutional Role in Trade

After Ambassador Tai argued that her office has adequately consulted with Congress about current trade negotiations, Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-11) pushed back:

USTR has been working to redefine Congress’s role in developing trade arrangements… I want my constituents to know what USTR believes qualifies as consultation with Congress. You believe that ‘close consultation with Congress’ is leaving documents in a SCIF [Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility] for members to read but not share with constituents, and holding two staff-level zoom hearings.


  1. Even Democrats Worry that the Biden Administration Isn’t Living Up to the Trade Successes of the Trump Administration

Democratic Representative Dan Kildee (MI-08) told Ambassador Tai that the Biden Administration should be following the model of President Trump’s successful USMCA that provided protections for American workers and was passed by the Ways and Means Committee and Congress – not “frameworks” that exclude the American people and their elected representatives:

I do share the concern that some have expressed about the new frameworks that the Administration is pursuing. I believe it’s not the step in the right direction we ought to be taking. What we saw under USMCA, I think, is a good example of how we ought to build a framework…