The administration received praise from Congress on Wednesday for filing two cases against China in the World Trade Organization, as Treasury Secretary Geithner prepares to take heat from two committees today over actions on Chinese currency.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office announced Wednesday it was seeking dispute settlement consultation, the precursor to the WTO forming a dispute settlement panel, with China over antidumping and countervailing duties on U.S. exports of grain-oriented flat-rolled electrical steel and discrimination against U.S. suppliers of electronic payment services.
“We are concerned that China is breaking its trade commitments to the United States and other WTO partners, both by favoring its one state-owned financial services firm to the exclusion of American credit and debit card companies and by manipulating trade-remedy investigations to unfairly restrict exports of American steel,” Trade Representative Kirk said in a statement.
The move drew bipartisan praise from congressional trade leaders who have been highly critical of the administration declining to label China a currency manipulator. Geithner will appear before the Senate Banking and House Ways and Means committees today on the subject.
“We can’t stand by while China abuses its … trade laws for protectionist purposes,” said Senate Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley. “The administration should go one step further and bring a case against China’s unfair currency manipulation at the WTO.”
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus said the complaints are “critical steps forward in our effort to enforce our market access rights in China.”
The first complaint alleges China unfairly imposed duties on the specialized steel product used in the manufacturing of transformers and reactors. A Chinese investigation found the United States dumped the products in Chinese markets at less than fair market value, which the USTR’s office alleges was a biased investigation that lacked evidence.
The second complaint alleges the People’s Bank of China allowed the domestic company China Union Pay to have what Kirk termed “a monopoly over most credit and debit card transactions,” a market it had committed to opening four years ago.
Chinese trade has become a part of the domestic manufacturing agenda House Democrats are promoting as part of an effort to highlight job creation bills.
“The Administration must continue to redouble its effort to address the range of Chinese practices which disadvantage and harm U.S. workers, farmers and businesses, that distort trade and investment flows, and which ultimately suppress U.S. growth and job creation,” Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin said in a statement.
What We're Following See More »
As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
"The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security. The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." Among the provisions it contains is a mandate that the Senate confirm the Secret Service director. It also boosts funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative by $195 million per year.
In remarks scheduled to be delivered today at the American Federation of Teachers' summer conference, President Randi Weingarten "likens U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a climate-change denier" and "says the Trump administration's school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools. She calls taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, tuition tax credits and the like 'only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.'" The pro-voucher Center for Education Reform said teachers should "consider inviting Weingarten’s resignation."