Inside US Trade: Twelve Senate Dems Urge Deletion Of Customs Bill's Climate Language

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Twelve Democratic senators are calling on the conference committee for a pending customs and trade enforcement bill to delete proposed language that would prevent the United States from negotiating provisions on climate change in trade agreements, amid doubts that the conference will happen at all.

[Reposted from Inside US Trade  |  July 20, 2015]

In a July 17 letter to the seven Senate conferees, the Democratic lawmakers argue that the climate change language in the House-passed customs bill is “misplaced, ambiguous, and serves only to send the wrong message to the world on the seriousness of the United States on climate policy.”

The language in question in the House version of the bill, H.R. 644, would amend the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) law to ensure that “trade agreements do not require changes to U.S. law or obligate the United States with respect to global warming or climate change.” This language would be inserted into the “overall negotiating objections” portion of the TPA statute. No such amendment is contained in the Senate version of H.R. 644.

But there are signs that the fight over this language may end up going nowhere. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for the first time since the enactment of TPA and other trade legislation on June 29 has not listed a motion to go to conference on the customs bill on the chamber's weekly agenda. His office included that item on the House agenda for two weeks in a row, but ultimately no motion was made.

One trade lobbyist said the delay in going to conference stemmed from staff being still hung up on differences in the language on currency between the House and Senate bills, and that a conference on the bill is unlikely before the August recess. This lobbyist also gave the bill a "50-50" chance of being passed into law at all at this point.

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